If you’ve ever had a customer who was demanding and uncooperative, you know what a headache it can be. For example, the one who becomes irate when you can’t fix a problem right away. How about the person who berates you for a lack of solution, even though you are working on their issue at the moment? Working with difficult or demanding customers is always challenging, but with a few simple tips and tricks under your belt, you’ll find it easier to handle even the most demanding customers like a pro.
Don’t get defensive.
As much as you’d like to think that customers will always be polite, kind, and respectful, the fact is that this isn’t always the case. Some customers can be demanding, aggressive and rude.
The key here is not to take it personally. People are angry and frustrated with a problem they need to solve–not with you personally! Don’t get defensive or aggressive back, rude, or patronizing either. Rather than react negatively, remain calm and collected, so you can handle the situation without escalating it.
Don’t get angry. Your job is to handle customer complaints and questions with a cool head. Don’t get riled up by what your customer is saying or doing. Always be polite and professional, even if they aren’t doing the same themselves!
Ask questions that show you understand where they’re coming from. One way to show empathy for a difficult situation is to ask questions like “What do you think would be a good solution?” or “How else might we resolve this issue?” By asking these kinds of questions instead of offering solutions or advice up front, you can better understand what needs fixing. This will help you find a better solution together.
Listen, then respond.
Once you’ve asked questions, listen. It’s simple in theory but sometimes challenging. If you focus too much on what you want to say next, or if you interrupt the customer before they finish speaking, you won’t hear what they have to say or have a complete picture of what they want.
Also, don’t jump to conclusions about what they will say next before they tell you. If you do, you’re likely to respond in a way that escalates the situation – and that rarely turns out well.
Pay attention to their body language.
In non-verbal communication, body language communicates emotions and feelings. Pay attention to body language because it will tell you how customers feel about the services your business provided. In many cases, body language speaks louder than words.
Disapproval doesn’t have to be glaring or obvious. Some people can show disapproval by simply turning their head away or crossing their arms and legs. Other signs of displeasure include:
- A frowning mouth shows disapproval or concern about something being said.
- Furrowed eyebrows show there may be a conflict between what you’re saying and what they’re thinking or feeling. They may also be confused by what you’re saying or might not understand the point you’re trying to make.
- If someone avoids eye contact then it’s likely they’re not comfortable around you or what you’re doing. If someone does make eye contact but only briefly before looking away again, they want to leave the situation but don’t want to appear rude by doing so.
Learn to recognize body language to get a better idea of what customers are trying to say.
Use language that shows you’re on their side.
When a customer is upset, it’s easy to become defensive. You may feel like they’re attacking you personally, or they don’t understand the situation. The customer has a reason for being upset–and this reason is probably valid (even if it seems like an overreaction).
One way to deal with this situation is by using language that shows empathy for the customer. For example: “I understand how frustrated you must be,” or “I feel the same way when I’m waiting on hold. By using this type of phrasing, you show customers that their feelings are valid and worthy of respect.
Give them something they don’t expect.
The next time you’re faced with a difficult customer, give them more than they expect and surprise them with an innovative approach. This way, the customer won’t feel like you’re selling them something they don’t need. Give them more than they ask for. For example, if a customer asks for just 5 units of product A, give them 10 instead or upgrade their service to a higher level without charging more. You’ll be amazed at how effective this is at changing people’s minds. (and making sure they stay loyal customers).
Be empathetic, but don’t forget your boundaries.
You can be empathetic, but don’t forget your boundaries. Empathy demonstrates you care about the customer’s feelings and needs. Empathy does not mean sympathy or that you are responsible for making them happy. If a customer is demanding and rude, focus on remaining calm while communicating clearly and maintaining your boundaries.
Keep this in mind. You can’t win them all and you can’t please everyone. It’s okay to lose a customer now and then. Do the best you can and maintain your composure, but also hold up to your end of the bargain. If you promise something, like a call later in the day, follow up on that promise, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t make things work out.
Customers are the lifeblood of your business. They’re the reason you’re in business, and they allow you to grow and succeed. You’ll eventually encounter demanding ones. See this as a challenge and an opportunity to grow but don’t let them break your spirit!