How to Handle Difficult Customers: 10 Tips for Success
We’ve all been there before. You’re trying to help a customer with their issue, but no matter what you do, they just seem angry and impossible to please. How to handle difficult customers can be a frustrating experience, but luckily there are some things you can do to diffuse the situation and hopefully turn an angry customer into a satisfied one. Here are six customer service skills on how to handle difficult customers:
How To Handle Difficult Customers
Some customer types may be more demanding than others, while some may just be having a hard day. Others may be difficult to deal with due to confusion about your product. No matter the reason, it’s important for your customer service teams to try and help all customers reach a satisfying resolution.
While everyone deserves to get a satisfactory solution to their problem, we know each customer is different.
No two tasks are the same, so you should approach each one differently.
Here are some of the customer types who can be difficult to deal with and the kind of messages that work best with them.
How To Respond To An Angry Customer
Have you received any angry emails before? If so, then you know how frustrating it can be.
At times, our valued customers may be angry or frustrated due to a bug in our product, or what they perceive to be an inefficient process.
Other times, their anger may stem from something as simple as a incorrect coffee order or a disagreement with a loved one. No matter the cause of their anger, we always aim to respond in a professional and understanding manner.
It doesn’t matter what the cause is, you should always respond to missed phone calls on your cell phone the same way.
Angry customers need to feel like their concerns are being heard. It’s important to validate their feelings, even if they don’t need an explanation.
For instance, imagine this:
I looked for a feature in your product that I use all the time, but I couldn’t find it. I assume you made changes to the product and didn’t tell anyone. This shows that you don’t know how to run a business.
This isn’t the way to do it. Everyone makes mistakes.
This level of anger may feel pretty disproportionate, but remember that you don’t know what is happening on the customer’s end. I understand how frustrating it must be to feel like your concerns are not being heard. There are a few things that you need to address in your response:
It can be difficult to remain calm when dealing with an angry customer, but it’s important to remember that they are upset about something and need help. Start by acknowledging their issue, and try to provide a solution. If you can’t resolve the issue immediately, let them know that you are working on it and will get back to them as soon as possible.
The most important thing to keep in mind when responding to an angry customer is that the point of your response is not to excuse or explain what happened. Instead, you should focus on calming down your customer and resolving the situation.
I’m sorry that you’re feeling frustrated. I understand how you feel, and I want to help.
We want to work with you to get to the bottom of this issue. In order to do that, we ask that you speak with our team in a respectful and kind way.
If you continue to disrespect our team members, we will not provide our services to you.
We’re sorry that we didn’t send an email or some other form of messaging about the change to our navigation bar. We understand that this caused quite a bit of pain for our customers and we’ll make sure to do better in the future.
We’re sorry to hear that you’re experiencing pain points with our new navigation bar. We chose to do in-app messaging, but it looks like you have that turned off. Our marketing team will be notified of this issue and we’ll work on finding a solution that works better for our customers. Thank you for your feedback!
Screenshot To find the feature you’re looking for, please click the button in the top right corner of your screen. It will look like this:. Screenshot
Next, click on the dropdown menu and select “Feature XYZ.” That will take you where you need to go.
How to Help Confused Customers
Confused customers are more of a slow burn. They don’t come to the interaction already feeling heated. Instead, they come to the interaction with a genuine question or concern that they need help resolving.
Confused customers can be frustrating because they don’t understand your product or company policies. For example, they might have expected a feature to work differently or not know how your refund process works. The best way to deal with confused customers is to listen to them, validate their experience, and then explain what they need to do.
If you have a confused customer, the best way to handle the situation is to listen to them, validate what they’re saying, and then provide clear instructions. This will help resolve the issue and prevent further confusion.
If the customer’s confusion persists or they become agitated, it may be helpful to transfer the conversation to a colleague. This will give the customer the chance to hear the explanation from someone else and hopefully clear up any misunderstandings.
Hearing it from someone else can validate for the customer that you aren’t just making things up. This can often diffuse the situation and help to calm them down.
These customers are more spontaneous and impatient, so they may not read your entire email or listen to your pitch on the first attempt.
This impulsiveness can sometimes lead to confusion. If you take your time writing out paragraphs in response, they may only read the first few sentences, think they’ve gotten the gist, and move on.
If you are struggling to get a response from someone, try to keep your message short and sweet, with lots of links to other content. You can also ask one of your colleagues to step in if it feels like you’re not getting anywhere.
Don’t You Know Who I Am?
We’ve all had customers that think they know more than us. But have you ever had someone tell you “don’t you even know who I am?”
What to do: If you find yourself dealing with a know-it-all customer, the best thing you can do is to stay calm and patient. Try to let them know that you appreciate their input, but also gently remind them that you are the expert on the product or service in question. If they continue to try to talk over you or dominate the conversation, politely excuse yourself and end the call or chat.
It can be difficult to change a know-it-all customer’s beliefs or convince them that they might not have all the information. In some cases, the best approach may be to compliment their knowledge and give them good attention.
Rather than correcting them or resetting their assumptions, try to give them a sincere compliment for their knowledge. Thank them for their input and let them know that you appreciate their help.
Many know-it-all customers don’t need any direct help, they just want to share their insights on how they think you could be doing things better.
Here’s an example:
I had difficulty using the drag-and-drop components while using your editor.
Hi there, I have been working in this industry for a long time and I have to say that I am surprised that your editor does not have search functionality for specific types of add-ons. Can you tell me why this is the case? I cannot think of a good reason why this would be omitted from the product.
Can you help me understand why you did that? I’m just trying to wrap my head around it.
I think you should add this search functionality and other add-ons to serve your customers better. If you don’t, you’ll lose many customers, including me.
There are a ton of other products on the market that can do this, and to be honest, I’m considering switching to one of those products if you aren’t willing to make this change. I pay a lot of money to you, so your opinion should be valuable, correct?
This email is full of details about a feature request, but it seems like the author is being passive aggressive.
Your customer is threatening to leave you if they don’t get this change made. They mention the name of the company they’re working for and mention that you pay them a decent amount of money.
It’s important to validate all of these details while letting your prospect know that it may take some time for these changes to be made.
How to Respond to Complaining Customers
The complainers are very opinionated about what you can change about your product and how you should do it.
Some customers might send you 50 or more emails every year. They may feel that they are not being heard, so they keep emailing. If your team responds to them and makes them feel heard, they may stop bothering you so much.
While dealing with these customers can be annoying, they’re often not as bad to deal with as others. Usually, all you need to do is acknowledge their complaints and empathize with them.
If you’re able to provide a workaround or advice on how they can change their workflow to make things easier, do so. This will help resolve the issue more quickly and efficiently.
Working with complainers can feel like a never ending battle, but often it’s a blessing in disguise.
Instead of taking every email personally, see them for the passionate fans of your company that they are. Instead of rolling your eyes when you see their name in your inbox, remember that they’re just trying to help make your company better.
Someone who didn’t care as much about improving the product or the ongoing longevity of your service wouldn’t take the time to reach out to you every time something came to mind. They would likely just let things go and hope for the best.
The key to dealing with complainers is to not ignore them, even if the customer complaints are not constructive. You should track their requests just as you would with a customer who does not email you every week with product thoughts.
Thank you for letting us know about your experience. We have logged your input and will be sure to pass it along to the appropriate team. At this time, we cannot provide any additional information about whether this is something that is already being considered or if it is on the roadmap. Thank you again for taking the time to reach out.
Hi there! We understand that there are a lot of lonely people in the world, especially during a global pandemic. Sometimes our support agent members will have customers who just love making phone calls and won’t end the chat, or finish the email. We appreciate your willingness to talk with our customers and help them through their issues. Thank you for your time and patience!
Chatty customers can be difficult to deal with, but it’s important to be respectful and kind when disengaging with them.
Of course, you have other customers that you need to attend to. It can be nice to chat with someone for a bit, but at the end of the day, that’s not why you’re getting paid.
Sometimes this looks like friends just chatting. Other times, it seems that the customer has another question to ask at the very end.
The method for handling these different scenarios is always the same.
Be respectful of the customer and answer their questions. Let them know that you understand their situation by saying things like, “Yep! Totally relatable!” Give yourself a time limit for how long you will spend talking to the customer.
Before we move on, is there anything that I can provide an answer for?” Once the time limit is up or it seems like they are running out of steam (if that happens first), let them know directly if you can provide an answer for anything: “Yep, these are some really great points. I’m happy to provide answers for anything before we move on.”
I completely understand how you feel.
Can I help you with anything right now?
This response is a good way to move the conversation with these talkative customers to a more positive place. After all, these friendly callers are just looking for someone to talk to.
No matter how you try to please a customer, they might eventually become angry or upset. They might show signs of anger or disappointment right from the beginning, or it might take a little while for them to show their true feelings. It’s usually easy to tell when someone is getting angry.
A few phrases to look for are:
I can’t believe I have to go through this every time I need help. I’m tired of going back and forth with customer service, only to be told that there’s nothing they can do. Did you really just tell me that my only option is to wait for a callback? Do you have any idea how long I’ve been on hold? In all of my time working with your company, I’ve never had such terrible customer service. I don’t care, just fix it.
Some people feel like they don’t know how to swim when they are faced with difficult customers. However, they can’t just leave these customers without a response.
Thank your customer for reaching out to you. Then, acknowledge that they’re frustrated and agree with them that this issue is frustrating. Let them know that you’re working to fix it or provide them with an answer if you have one.
Above all, remember that you shouldn’t take rejections too personal.
If you find that the steps above aren’t working and the customer is still angry, see if you can connect them with an executive sponsor or manager on your team. Sometimes, people just want to feel like they’ve been connected with a Very Important Person.
If someone speaks to you in an offensive or abusive way, you should speak to a manager and see what you can do to get additional support.
If you’re looking for tips on how to handle difficult customers, using the customer service skills above will ensure success when dealing with challenging customer service situations. By following these suggestions, you’ll be better equipped to deal with angry or impatient customers and hopefully turn them into satisfied ones.