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Customer Service 101: Managing Difficult Customers

Dealing with a difficult customer can go either way. RACHEL FAITH CRUZ shows you the right way to go about it.


27 Mar 2012 Print This Post Print This Post


    No business is without a difficult customer – and no matter how unpleasant the situation is, dealing with them is unavoidable. Occasionally, you may encounter customers who have petty or invalid complaints, which is why it’s important for a business, no matter how big or small, to set its policy and procedures when it comes to this.

    You can turn the situation in your favor and take it as a challenge in learning how to handle your business better. In many instances, you can actually take hints on where to improve from dealing with a difficult customer.

    Take the time to listen and listen closely. Difficult customers may be brutally frank about their feedback, but you cannot get an assessment of your business any more honest than from these people. Some of them may even make a few suggestions or give you unsolicited ideas. But if you listen well or set aside your personal feelings, their ideas may be just what you need to succeed.

    Avoid arguing with a difficult customer. This is perhaps the golden rule for people involved in sales and services and it’s still being taught at business schools today. Arguing only prolongs unpleasant and needless stress from both sides.

    What would work better is if you acknowledge the customers’ disappointments and allow them to vent. Respond in a way that appeases their anger, such as saying, “I can see you’re upset. I want to assure you that we also want to resolve this matter. Let’s see what we can do about it.” This makes an angry customer aware that you are hearing their complaints and are willing to keep the lines of communication open.

    Keep in mind that the customer’s attack isn’t personal, despite the fact that some may go overboard and start using profanity. Focus on the problem, so that you avoid becoming defensive.

    Take action and fix the problem as soon as possible. Anything that remains unsettled will most likely get worse and cost your business even more. If the customer is presently at your store or office, let her leave satisfied. Do a follow-up if the matter needs to be resolved further and keep the customer informed about how you are taking charge of the matter.

    A difficult customer appreciates gestures that let them know they are given priority. However, take care not to promise what you cannot deliver or give the customer unrealistic expectations.

    Re-asses your business, products or service. If you are getting a handful of difficult costumers, it may be a sign that something needs to be fixed in the way you conduct your business. The sooner you identify the root of the problem, the sooner you can apply solutions and avoid disaster and failure.

    Be realistic with your expectations as well. If a customer remains difficult to manage despite the logical steps you’ve done to deliver and appease her, face the facts and accept that it may be best to lose this customer.

    The truth is, there will always be unsatisfied, difficult costumers. But the challenge of turning these people into happy, loyal customers defines the kind of businessperson you will become.


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