No matter how extraordinary a service you provide, it’s important to remember that you can’t please everyone every time. Whether it’s a customer with heightened expectations, or an otherwise lovely person who happens to be having a rough day, you will inevitably encounter customers who are difficult to satisfy.
In this article, we are going to share with you the 5 types of difficult customers you may encounter in the future and recommendations on how to effectively help them and solve their issues.
1. The Demanding/ Bully/ Aggressive Customer
This type of difficult customer is quick to anger, overly aggressive, highly critical, rude, arrogant and often verbally abusive.
They think their needs and demands are superior to everybody else’s. They scream, complain, abuse and may often get physical to get what they want.
How to handle the demanding/ bully/ aggressive:
It doesn’t really matter whether you’re right or wrong, bullies don’t care about your explanations. So, the best way to handle them is to calmly and confidently apologise for the ‘problem’ and tell them you’re willing to solve the problem if they calm down and tell you exactly how you can help.
Don’t ever join them in a shouting match or try to match their aggression. Respond politely to them without raising your voice and never take their insults and criticisms personally. Try to understand why they are frustrated and wait for them to regain composure. When their anger has subsided, take the opportunity to apologize and offer a solution. ‘Converted bullies’ can become very loyal customers and ambassadors of your business.
2. The Complainer
Generally, customers complain. And it’s a good thing because complaints can be a very rich source of positive and constructive feedback for your business.
But when you find a particular customer who complains all the time – even about the pettiest of things – you may have a habitual complainer on your hands. These customers complain about everything and anything. They nag about your prices, the layout of your office, the colour of your shirt, and even the weather.
For this type, nothing is ever good enough. That’s why it can be almost impossible to totally satisfy them.
How to handle the complainer:
While his complaints may seem harmless, you need to be careful with the habitual complainer because his attitude can exhaust you and totally stress you out.
First, you need to come to terms with the fact that you cannot satisfy everybody. And the habitual complainer is one of those. Accepting this fact will help you limit yourself from going out of your way to satisfy him everytime.
All you can do is give your very best.
But this doesn’t mean you should ignore the habitual complainer. Give her your attention and let her know you’re listening. Never give in to the temptation to make excuses or explain your way out of her complaints.
No matter what she says, respond calmly and nicely, and with a smile (if you can find one.)
If there are any valid complaints you think you can fix, then do something about it. It’s always a good strategy to make a note of all the things he’s asking for and serve him at once. That way, you don’t have to deal with him multiple times.
3. The Confused/ Indecisive Customer
For some strange reason, this type of customer just cannot make a decision. They’ll ask you questions, and even more questions, but still can’t make a purchase no matter the quantity of information you provide.
Indecisives want to be 101 percent sure that they’re getting the best deal, quality, price and features before they buy. They’re usually afraid of making any mistakes. That’s why they keep asking questions, comparing, and ‘investigating.’ They’ll exhaust your energy and time, and still won’t buy. Although they’re harmless and often very polite, this type of customer can be very draining on your productivity.
How to handle the confused/indecisive:
The key to handling the Indecisive is to determine their hot button. What exactly are they most concerned about? Price? Quality? Quantity? Features?
When you know what their hot button is, it’s much easier to ‘force’ them to make a decision. If they make the decision, good for you – you’ll make a sale.
Another way to move Indecisives towards a decision is to ‘sweeten’ the deal. Give them a price or bulk discount, a free taster, or offer a money-back guarantee. Better still, you can introduce some urgency to ‘help’ them make a decision.
Either way, you need to be strict with this type of customer. If not, they’ll eat up your time and energy, and leave you exhausted – without a sale, of course.
4. The Impatient Customer
This is the kind of customer who doesn’t care about the fact that something is not available or can’t be done at the moment. He can’t imagine you don’t have some features or service. He can’t believe you’re closed at 6pm and you don’t offer any additional contact after this hour. Also, he can’t show it in any other way than by resorting to anger. He usually use phrases like: “I can’t believe it”, “I want this solved”, “I want it now or I’ll go to your competitors!”
How to handle the impatient:
All customers deserve a prompt response and quick action, regardless of how difficult they are. But you can’t necessarily bump a customer to the top of the queue just because he’s lost his patience. Do your best to explain why things aren’t moving as quickly as he’d like, assure him that you appreciate his patience, and do your best to serve him as quickly as possible. If possible, refer him to less-busy colleagues who can give him more timely assistance.
5. The Know-it-all Customer
I’m sure you’ve met this kind of person before. They seem to know everything about everything, including your business, product or service.
In their bid to showcase their knowledge, they could be highly critical and rude. They also tend to talk a lot and always want to dominate the conversation. He is convinced of being right and it’s almost impossible to change his beliefs.
This type of customer can be especially difficult to deal with because you can’t really tell what they want. In fact, sometimes, this attitude could just be a negotiation gambit intended to make your product or service seem inferior so they can get it at a cheaper price.
How to handle the know-it-all:
Handling this type of difficult customer can be easy, if you know how to.
Know-it-alls repond quite well to an ego massage. Compliment their knowledge of your product or service and give them some good attention while you can. Make sure your compliments are sincere and not patronizing.
Never argue with this type of customer as you’ll end up having an extended argument. And worse still, you may hurt her ego.
Instead, if you need to correct him and provide some facts and information, you may use a line like: ‘You’re right, but I think the product is… (make your point).
As long as the ‘Know-it-all’ feels she got your attention, and leaves with her ego intact, this kind of customer can become loyal too.
Not knowing how to deal with difficult customers may lead to low staff morale, lost sales, and a damaged reputation for your business. The key is to learn how to make the best of a difficult customer interaction and resolve the situation in a manner that satisfies everyone. With the right tips and tactics you’ll be prepared to navigate any situation that comes your way.
Once you have identified which customer type you’re dealing with, approach each encounter uniquely and cater your communication method to the customer type you’re working with. Think about shifting your mindset and look at every interaction as an opportunity to build rapport. Stay calm and professional no matter what situation you find yourself in. If you play your cards right, you’re likely to end up with a returning customer and in turn, avoiding customer churn.
If you need more help on managing difficult customers professionally, join our 1-day high impact seminar by our all-time favourite trainer, Ms Maxine Teo! Click here to find out more about the course.