Even if you do everything right, you’ll always come across the occasional difficult customer. It’s impossible to satisfy everyone. The best you can do is ensure that you know how to deal with difficult customers in a professional manner. Your company’s reputation depends on it. 

Of course, there are different reasons why certain customers are considered difficult. Some have unreasonable demands. Others want to vent their frustration. Some just can’t decide what they want. Your method for dealing with one might not work for another, which is why you need to know how to handle each situation accordingly. 

In doing so, you can make happy and loyal customers out of the most unlikely people. Here’s how. 

Vague Customers

Situation: A customer has trouble communicating what they want. 

Solution: Don’t hesitate to ask questions here. Knowing more about their needs will help you determine what is necessary in order to be of service. Perhaps you can suggest relevant material such as pamphlets or pictures. Try to ask open-ended questions as opposed to getting yes/no answers. This will help you obtain more information. 

Indecisive Customers

Situation: A customer is unsure about what to choose. 

Solution: You can tackle this in a similar manner to the above customer type. Let them explain what they want. It’s likely that they have a concern about the product or service that needs to be addressed, such as with the price or choosing between different options. Providing examples of what you believe would best suit the customer’s needs can help. 

Impatient Customers

Situation: A customer is particularly upset about something taking longer than expected. 

Solution: Start with an apology, but only when you have a valid “because” to back it up. Provide a good reason for the delay while making sure to use positive language. For instance, you can say that you’re working with the maintenance team to get things up and running again. 

When appropriate, you can end by offering to inform the customer with a follow-up message when everything is ready. 

Unhappy Customers

Situation: A customer has a complaint or is simply not pleased with the product or service. 

Solution: It’s good to start with an apology here as well – even if their dissatisfaction isn’t justified. Be sure to frame it accordingly. From there, you can suggest a solution and attempt to alleviate the issue. It’s worth listening to the customer to hear about how they want the matter resolved. 

Furious Customers

Situation:  A customer is extremely angry and cannot be reasoned with. 

Solution: The safest way out here is to simply listen. Let them explain their dissatisfaction without judgement or interruptions. At this point, any answer, no matter how good, will likely be interpreted as an excuse or just flat out ignored. Remember not to take anything they say personally. 

As always, an apology is in order once the customer is finished venting. Speak slowly and calmly while asking questions that help the customer work through their problem. Chances are that they’ll eventually solve it themselves. If not, then it’s up to you to determine a suitable solution. 

Demanding Customers

Situation: A customer is set in their ways and refuses to budge. 

Solution: This is the opposite of the indecisive customer. They seem to know what they want so well that they ignore any alternatives, even if the alternatives are better for them. Your best bet is to politely inform them that there are other choices and let them decide how they want to proceed. You essentially act as a source of information. 

If you can’t meet their demands, then try to find an appropriate compromise, such as a free product or discount. 

Talkative Customers

Situation: A customer is speaking a lot, but saying very little. 

Solution: These aren’t always easy situations, as the customer might not be unhappy. In fact, they might love the product or service to the point where they can’t stop talking about it. Depending on the circumstances, one option might be to move the conversation to another channel. 

For example, if the customer is talking on the phone, then you can let them know that the service rep they’re speaking to needs to take a break before requesting their contact information. Then you can communicate with them via email. This is an ideal opportunity to leverage enthusiastic customers into providing a testimonial or positive feedback. 

Let’s end things off by taking a look at some challenging scenarios that don’t necessarily involve a difficult customer. 

You Don’t Have an Answer

Situation: A unique situation has occurred where you don’t know what to say. 

Solution: Of course, being a customer service representative or anyone who stands as the face of the company for that matter, you can’t say that you don’t know. That can turn even the calmest face red. A better option is to inform the customer that you’re going to explore the available options and get back to them. 

Be sure to provide a specific time and stick to it. Don’t make the customer send a follow-up message. If you happen to reach the deadline without a solution, you can still send a quick message to say that you need more time. 

You Need to Transfer Someone

Situation: The issue is beyond your area of expertise. 

Solution: You want to transfer the customer without making them feel like their issue is being brushed off. Give them confidence that you’re sending them in the right direction and remember to use positive language. 

You Made a Mistake

Situation: Something happened where you’re at fault. 

Solution: You might have to put ego aside and acknowledge your error. Take an objective look at the situation and consider how it impacted the customer. Being truthful will make all the difference. Show empathy to the customer and remind them that it won’t happen again. 

You’ll inevitably find yourself in these situations during your time dealing with customers. They won’t always be easy, but knowing what to do and having confidence in yourself will help you get through them promptly and professionally.