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10 Strategies on How to Deal With a Difficult Customer

How to deal with a difficult customer? If you’ve ever had to deal with an impatient, indecisive, demanding, or rude customer, then you know how frustrating it can be. You try your best to stay calm and patient, but sometimes it feels like nothing you do is good enough.

It’s important to remember that not all customers are created equal, and some require more patience than others.

In this blog post, we’ll share some tips on how to deal with a difficult customer so you can resolve the issue while keeping your cool.

How to Deal with a Difficult Customer

No matter how good you are at your job, you’re bound to run into some difficult customers. Knowing how to handle these tough situations is an important skill for any business professional.

Even the most customer-focused business is bound to have the occasional unhappy client.

It is important to have properly trained staff who can handle difficult people and resolve customer complaints to build a positive reputation with consumers.

According to Grateful Box CEO Kim Angeli, the first step in turning customers from grumpy to grateful is to thank them for sharing their bad experiences.

Although it is our natural response to get defensive when handling a disgruntled client, you can flip the switch by starting with a ‘thank you.’

This tactic can be adapted by any business and can have a positive impact once taught to customer service teams, sales teams, and even leadership.

However, providing excellent customer service when dealing with complaints doesn’t stop there. Your team can learn several other techniques and strategies to enhance the quality of customer service.

The Impatient Customer

The situation: The customer may be impatient due to the wait time, running late for their next appointment, or restless while waiting for a solution.

What to do: Be direct and to the point without being dismissive of their demeanor. Without getting into details, explain why there is a delay.

It is important to let impatient customers know that you are trying to resolve the problem.

Also, try to frame your answers positively. Instead of stating that an item is out-of-stock, explain that a new shipment is expected by a specific date or that you are working quickly to restock the item.

The Indecisive Customer

The situation: The customer is having difficulty deciding between several options and has not communicated this concern to you.

What to do:

Ask specific questions about the most important factors that influence decision-making. These include features, service tiers, and price. You may also have literature that could help them make a decision.

Most importantly, take their concerns seriously and listen carefully.

The Angry Customer

The situation: No matter what the solution or scenario, angry customers are not satisfied with the outcome. Attempts to remedy the situation are either futile or worsening it.

What to do: Even if you don’t feel it’s necessary, apologize for the situation. You can resolve the situation by addressing their grievances regarding the subject.

Remember to keep your interactions brief. If you stay too long, customers will start to complain and you’ll have less time to serve the other customers.

If all your attempts are failing or making things worse, it might be better to let them blow off steam and then offer a solution to the problem.

The Demanding Customer

The situation: A demanding customer can be a drain on your energy and time, often at the expense of other customers. They may be set on the product or solution they want and may not accept alternatives, even if those alternatives are a better fit for their needs. They can be quite inflexible, insisting on getting their own way.

What to do: Speak slowly and be patient. Hear their concerns and work quickly to resolve them.

Be transparent. Avoid giving answers that buy time or put off their needs while addressing other customers.

The Vague Customer

The situation: This customer may have difficulty articulating the problem or understanding their options. The answers to your questions don’t seem to be helping the situation and may even be making it more confusing.

What to do: Just like with the indecisive customer, ask specific questions about the customer’s needs. This will provide you with the information you need to help them most effectively.

So that you don’t waste time waiting for other customers, each question you ask should be geared towards getting to the bottom of the situation.

The Customer That Demands a Refund

The scenario: This caller is unhappy because they aren’t satisfied with the product. They’d like to get their money back so that they can purchase a different one.

What to do: Each company has different policies regarding refunds as well as regulations that determine what items can be taken back.

If the customer wants a full refund, you should provide it. If, however, your company does not want to give credits for future orders, you could consider offering partial refunds.

If a refund is processed, be sure to let the customers know when the processing took place and how long it should take.

The Unhappy Customer

The situation: The customer is still dissatisfied with the resolutions offered, despite your best efforts to resolve their situation.

What to do: An angry and an unsatisfied client both require a similarly structured apology. Start by apologizing, even if you feel it isn’t warranted.

Take a minute to briefly review your offerings and see if you can come up with anything else. Also, check your employee handbook to see what your company policies are regarding this issue.

When talking to someone, don’t ignore them or brush off their concerns and issues. Instead, listen to them with empathy and concern.

When dealing with an upset or irate customer, it’s important to have a few different strategies up your sleeve. It’s also important to remain flexible and able to adapt to the situation.

10 Strategies for Dealing with a Difficult Customer

Michael Effle, the former CEO of e-commerce platform Vendio, shares 10 tips to turn bad customer experiences into opportunities to improve your business.

  1. Listen. It is important to let the customer speak their mind, even if you may already know what they are going to say. This way, you can build rapport and trust with the customer. Try not to interrupt them or argue with them, as this will only damage your relationship. Instead, listen carefully and see if there is anything you can do to help resolve the issue.
  2. Show Empathy. Try to imagine yourself in the shoes of your customer. You can empathize with their frustrations and show empathy for their situation. It will help you calm down if you can empathize with and understand the customer’s situation.
  3. Keep Your Voice Down. If the customer gets louder, you can calmly speak to them in a low tone. This way, you can help them to settle down and diffuse the situation. By approaching the situation with a clear mind, unaffected by the customer’s tone or volume, their anger will generally dissipate.
  4. Respond to an Audience. When interacting with a customer, always pretend that you are speaking to an audience. This will help you maintain a professional demeanor and keep your cool if the customer becomes verbally abusive. Remember that an unhappy customer can deter other potential customers, so it is important to address their concerns in a calm and collected manner.
  5. Know When to Compromise. If it is apparent that satisfying a rude customer is going to take two hours and a bottle of aspirin, it may be better to take the high road and compromise in their favor. This will give you more time to nurture other, more productive customer relationships. Keep in mind that the interaction is atypical of customers and you’re dealing with an exception.
  6. Stay Calm. If the customer is swearing, take a deep breath and continue to respond as if they didn’t hear you. Reacting in kind will not solve the problem and will often escalate the situation. Instead, remind the customer you are here to help and that they have the best chance of resolving the problem. This simple statement can often help to diffuse the situation.
  7. Don’t Take It Personally. It’s important to always speak to the issue at hand, and not get personal – even if the customer does. Remember that the customer doesn’t know you, and may just be venting frustration in general. Gently guide the conversation back to the issue, and how you intend to resolve it.
  8. Interact with a Human. We all have days when things don’t go as planned. Maybe they had a fight with their spouse, got a traffic ticket, or are just having a run of bad luck. It’s okay to not be okay sometimes. Try to empathize with others and make their day better by being in a pleasant, calming voice. It’ll make you feel good too.
  9. Keep Your Word. If you promised a callback, make sure to follow through at the scheduled time. Even if you do not have an update as of yet, it is important to reassure the customer that you are not trying to avoid them. They will appreciate the follow-up.
  10. Summarize the next steps. At the end of the call, it is important to let the customer know what to expect next and then follow through with any promises that were made. Documentation of the call can help to ensure that you are prepared for future interactions.

In short, always remember that the customer is always right, even if they are wrong. By following these 10 steps, you can turn a difficult customer service situation into an opportunity to improve your business.

Activities for handling difficult customer conversations

It is essential to train customer service agents and sales staff to uphold a level of professionalism. This not only creates a positive experience for the customer but also builds trust between the company and the consumer.

Invest in training your employees on conflict resolution and communication skills so you can improve their overall service. By regularly practicing these skills, you can ensure that their skills remain sharp.

When we spoke with experts about dealing with difficult customers, the most frequently recommended customer service training exercise was role-playing.

No matter how different each customer may be, it is important to be prepared for as many different situations as possible. This means training your employees to be able to handle any kind of customer interaction professionally, no matter how unique it may be.

We recommend that employees role-play difficult customer conversations in a group setting. This way, everyone can learn how to handle different types of conflict and interactions. Plus, it’s always good to have more than one person prepared for each situation.

If your employees can see things from the customer’s perspective, they’ll be able to show more empathy when a difficult conversation comes up. This can help turn a negative situation into a positive one.

Customers who are difficult to deal with may be doing you a favor. They are reaching out to you because they want answers to their questions. While they may not always say it in the most polite manner, you can build trust with them by providing them with the information they’re looking for.

Don’t let a difficult customer ruin your day. Take the time to develop your customer service skills so you’re better prepared to handle any challenging situation that may arise. By honing your skills, you’ll be able to provide an excellent level of service no matter what the circumstance.


If you’re dealing with a difficult customer, it’s important to stay calm and patient. This can be easier said than done, but there are some strategies you can use to deal with upset customers. By following the tips in this blog post on how to deal with a difficult customer, you’ll be better equipped to resolve an impossible situation.