Working With a Difficult Customer

Not everyone is a happy-go-lucky type customer. Some customers are difficult, there’s no doubt about it, but if you can learn to work with them, you’ll create a unique competitive advantage vs. your competition, which most likely has no clue on how to handle them.

Listening is key.

The most important thing you need to understand about difficult customers, is that they just want to be heard i.e. listened to, so if you muster up the strength to sit back and listen, you’ll be sure to come out on the positive side of things, instead of the negative side. Ultimately, what you want to do is handle the situation, and guide the customer back to neutral ground where both parties can work together to help each other out. So to help you out the next time you’re working with a difficult customer, below I’ve shared the go-to tips that I use when the odd situation arises.

Maintain self control.

If you flip out and start going on the offensive, it’s over, you’ll only be hurting yourself. There’s nothing more satisfying to a difficult customer than seeing the person they’re interacting with get all fired up. Never let them see you sweat or lose your cool, and you’ve already won half the battle.

Listen, listen, listen.

Who in the world doesn’t want to be listened to? The answer is, “No one,” so give them what they want. Sit back, get a nice bottle of water, open your ears, and listen up. Look at listening as an art form. Have fun with it. Relate to what the customer is saying as you’re listening to them.

Validate the way the customer is feeling.

After you’ve listened, now it’s your time to chime in, let the customer know that you’ve heard them loud and clear, and that you’re committed to helping them out.

Determine an appropriate resolution.

You need to come up with a plan that’s going to work for the customer, as well as yourself. Yes, you may have to give a little here, or a lot, it really doesn’t matter, just do whatever you need to do. I’m not talking about being a push-over here, I’m talking about making an agreement that both parties can live with.

Act quickly and follow up.

Once the plan to resolution is agreed upon, act on it immediately. If you don’t act quickly, you’ll only be compounding the situation. Don’t give some lame lip service and then not follow through. If you say you’re going to do something, do it.

Summarizing Everything.

There you have it. A few simple steps you can take to defuse the situation when working with a difficult customer. The main thing to remember is that life is about helping out and having some fun in the process, so don’t take yourself too seriously throughout all your business situations. Yes, mistakes are going to happen, and yes, they can be repaired if handled properly. What’s not excusable is continuing to make the same mistake over and over, and not making any changes. Like I say, “If you want change, you need to change.”

Go into every situation with a difficult customer with the intent to make them your best customer. Some of the hardest customers are actually the softest on the inside, you just have to break through that tough exterior layer to be able to see it.