Every company has customers that they provide goods and/or services too. For some companies their customers are the general public (business to client), for others their clients are employees of another organization (business to business), and for others their customers are both the general public and other organizations. In all scenarios, providing great customer service is more important than ever before and because so many companies have caught on to this, the bar for what qualifies for “great” customer service has steadily been raised. All of this is for the better, mostly, but it does lead to difficult customers potentially having a larger negative impact on a business than in years past. Difficult customers are inevitable but remembering the information from this article can help keep your company providing great customer service throughout; minimizing the negative impact of difficult customers.
The most obvious sign most people say tip them off that a “difficult customer” is heading their way is the customer being angry; especially if they are very angry and not properly controlling said anger. The best customer service representatives keep an eye out for verbal and non-verbal cues that a customer is angry, such as sarcastic language or raising their voice. Other customers are more passive with their anger, so their cues are less verbal and more non-verbal, but if not handled properly, will lead to the same result: a hit to your company’s reputation. Companies that provide great customer service train their employees how to diffuse anger, allowing them to focus on the issue that caused the anger in the first place, making resolving the issue much more efficient. The best customer service representatives empathize, ask lots of questions, and summarize to prevent miscommunication and wasted time, which feeds a difficult customer’s anger.
Companies that provide great customer service train their employees to find out what the difficult customer wants as fast as possible, suggest alternatives, agree on a solution with the difficult customer as fast as possible, and follow up where necessary to (hopefully) prevent the difficult customer from damaging the company’s reputation. Employees typically do these things in 1 of 2 settings: the client is right in front of them, aka in person, or they’re not, aka their communicating with the client over the phone, via email, or via instant chat. Difficult customers in the latter setting are harder to work with because employees cannot rely on non-verbal cues, but the previously mentioned plan is still the employees best chance of reaching the best outcome. For those unfortunate times where difficult customers cross an ethical or legal line, great companies also train their employees to not let themselves be abused while at the same time not escalating the situation further.