The importance of customer service in today’s business environment cannot be overstated. This is especially true for small or new businesses; great customer service vs poor customer service can mean the difference between a business that thrives or goes bankrupt. Providing great customer service is typically easy when the interaction is between a happy customer and the company, but what about when the interaction is between an angry/difficult customer and the company? This is the true test of a company’s customer service level. While the best ways to deal with a difficult customer vary depending on the scenario, there are a number of commonly agreed upon ways to not do so. This article will highlight the worst ways to deal with a difficult customer.
The first thing customer relations experts say not to do is get defensive. An angry, unsatisfied customer does not care about the details of why their interaction with your company did not go as expected. Their focus is on getting the situation fixed, typically as quickly as possible, and savvy employees should focus on that as well. Similarly, savvy employees know that a difficult customer’s poor manners, bad language, and anything else are not (typically) directed at the employee personally. They are directed at the company and whatever factors led to the bad interaction. One of the worst ways to deal with a difficult customer is to take what they are doing personally. Having said that, there are limits of course, and any threats of violence (or actual violence) should be reported to management or the authorities.
An employee raising their voice to a customer is an absolute worst way to deal with the situation. That invites them to raise their voice even louder and continue escalation even further, which in this day and age is likely to get caught on camera since there are drones, phones, security cameras, and more everywhere. Even if the customer started the shouting match and is being completely unreasonable, an employee raising their voice in response is not going to look good. An employee should speak steadily but firmly, leading the customer down from an escalation.
Ignoring a customer’s concerns or not investing the proper amount of time to understand their concerns are similarly related ways to improperly deal with a difficult customer. This is typically not done intentionally by the employee and can happen due to such reasons as a language barrier or a quickly-evolving situation. Whatever the reason, as soon this complaint is communicated during an interaction, the proper response from the employee should be to confirm, in writing potentially, exactly what the concerns/issues are so that any further remedies are focused properly.