Five Tried and True Ways to Handle Difficult Customers

Lauren Krause
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Employees are sure to encounter difficult customers from time to time. Consumers are demanding and want premium customer service at all times. Fortunately, you can learn how to deal with challenging consumers and ramp up your service efforts by creating a connection, personalizing the interaction and working to satisfy even people who are hard to please.

Consumers do not always strive to be difficult customers, explains Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle of Forbes. Attitudes and negative interactions often stem from frustration. Allow consumers to vent to express their feelings and explain why they are not satisfied with the product or service they received. Representatives who allow customers to vent show that they care and are willing to listen, even when the consumer is angry. Venting is often the first step in healing, and clients often calm down and think more rationally after they have expressed their frustrations.

Listen actively to what the customer has to say. Consumers need to be heard and you can identify strategies to resolve the problem when listening intently to their complaints and concerns. Avoid tuning out when difficult customers begin to rant. Aim for understanding their perspective and put yourself in their shoes to identify the level of frustration. Acknowledge what the customer is saying and repeat the key elements of the conversation to make sure you understand the concerns. A conversation with active listening helps to build trust between the representative and the consumer.

Act quickly to resolve the problem. Difficult customers have often tried several avenues to seek a resolution and you are often the last resort. Identify options to resolve the problem and be direct when communicating any obstacles you may face. Consumers are often frustrated when their time is wasted, so avoid making promises you cannot fulfill. Reply promptly as well to avoid escalating their frustration level.

Go above and beyond to rectify the problem. Seek out solutions with other departments or supervisors quickly and correspond directly with the client instead of transferring the call to another individual. Difficult customers often crave personalized service to re-establish trust in the company and its products and services. Avoid referring the customer to an automated service that can further fuel their frustrations. Personalize and customize the service by providing a direct number they can call to contact you to follow up if necessary. Companies who promote personalized customer service often see better retention rates and ultimately, increased profits.

If you are a customer service representative who deals with difficult customers on a regular basis, make every effort to resist the temptation to become frustrated. Build a connection through a patient and calm approach toward challenging clients and offer premium service to soothe their frustrations and retain their business.

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