Thursday, August 24, 2023

Handling a Difficult Customer: Why they may be difficult

They Have Truly Had a Bad Experience and Want to Vent

Venting swing emotions such as anxiety and anger can be a useful strategy in slowing down thoughts and reaching a calmer emotional state. When customers vent, they want a solution, but more importantly, they want to know that they are being heard -- that their concerns are valid. Listening actively with empathy to an upset customer can de-escalate their emotional state.

They Want Someone to be Held Accountable

Customers looking for accountability feel anxious and angry. To be held accountable is to acknowledge that you can be responsible for where things go from here. When you take responsibility, you are saying that you are able to respond to the situation rather than saying the situation is your fault. Often when you reassure a customer that you are going to help them, and you offer a specific strategy on how you will do so, this helps the customer feel less anxious. By providing specific information, you help customers to de-escalate their anxiety. 

They Have Truly Had a Bad Experience and Want Resolution

When customers express that they are looking for a resolution, they can quickly de-escalate when they know that you are working toward a resolution. Sometimes conflicts can arise when the resolution is not what the customer wants or expects, including the idea that a complete resolution may take time. In this case, being honest and offering multiple options can help a customer accept the range of resolutions being offered. 

They are Generally Unhappy

Customers who are generally unhappy people can be exceptionally difficult. When you ask what is wrong, they can launch into an entire laundry list. When dealing with generally unhappy people, you can help them by refocusing their attention on the here and now and the problem at hand. Rather than asking what is wrong, you can ask how you can help them today or look for specific steps you can take to resolve a specific issue. Remain authentically positive and look for a specific solution.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

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