How to manage and wow difficult customers

How to manage and wow difficult customers

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22 Mar 2023

Managing difficult customers
Managing difficult customers
Managing difficult customers

Dealing with difficult customers is one of the most challenging aspects of customer service departments. Learning to manage these customers with grace and professionalism can build stronger customer relationships and prevent negative reviews and word-of-mouth advertising.

The January 2023 UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) is 77.7 out of 100, which is a decline of 0.7 points compared to July 2022 and January 2022.

Here are 5 common scenarios where customers may be difficult, and how to handle them with grace:

Angry customers 😡

Customers may become angry when contacting customer service for a variety of reasons.

Reasons why customers might be angry:

  • They may have had a negative experience with a company's customer service in the past

  • Long wait times

  • Unhelpful automated phone systems

  • Complicated company website or self-service options

  • Inconsistent or contradictory information

Generally speaking, customers can become angry or frustrated if they feel like they are not being heard or their issue is not being taken seriously. This can quite challenging for customer service agents to manage.

In order to effectively manage angry customers, try to understand the underlying reasons for their frustration and address those issues directly. Communicate clearly and honestly with customers, and be empathetic.

Acknowledge their frustration, apologize for any inconvenience, actively listen, and offer a solution that addresses their issue.

Demanding customers 🏋️

Customers who are demanding may have a variety of underlying reasons for their behaviour. Understanding these reasons can help businesses and customer service representatives better manage these types of customers. Here are some common reasons why customers may be demanding:

  • The customer expects personalised attention

  • They expect lightning-fast service

  • Their issue may be urgent. For example, a customer may need a product or service for a special event or deadline.

  • Some customers may not trust the business or the customer service representative they are working with. This lack of trust may be due to previous negative experiences or a general distrust of businesses. When they don't trust the business or the representative, they may become demanding in order to ensure that their needs are met to their satisfaction.

When these expectations are not met, customers can become demanding in order to get the level of service they feel they deserve.

How to manage demanding customers:

  • Set clear boundaries

  • Exercise patience

  • Communicate expectations

  • Establish realistic timelines and deliverables

  • Offer solutions that meet their needs

Vague customers 🤔

Customers who are vague when supplying information to customer service can be challenging. These customers often have an issue or complaint but are unable to clearly explain what the problem is or provide relevant details. This can lead to frustration on both sides, as the customer service agent is unable to provide effective assistance, and the customer may become increasingly upset due to the lack of progress.

How to manage vague customers:

  • Remain calm and patient

  • Listen carefully to customer's issues

  • Ask open-ended questions to try to narrow down the problem

  • Repeat the information to the customer to confirm that it is correct and unambiguous

Another solution for managing customers who are vague when supplying information is to provide them with specific prompts that would be helpful for resolving the issue. For example, a customer service agent might ask the customer to provide their order number, the date of purchase, and a detailed description of the issue. By providing these prompts, the customer service agent can guide the customer towards providing more useful information, and ultimately resolving the issue more efficiently.

Customers who refuse to listen 🙉

Sometimes customers just don't want to listen. But the customer is always right... right?

  • Maybe the customer has preconceived notions about the product or service they are receiving and may be resistant to suggestions or feedback.

  • They may have a communication barrier with the agent, whether it is language or cultural differences, or an inability to understand the technical jargon.

  • The customer may be too focused on their own perspective and not willing to listen to alternative viewpoints.

To help customers listen to customer service agents, it is important to establish a rapport and build trust. This can be achieved by using active listening skills, asking questions to understand their perspective, and showing empathy towards their situation. Agents can also use plain language and avoid technical jargon to ensure that the customer understands the information being conveyed. Additionally, agents can provide examples or visual aids to help explain complex concepts.

It is also important to remember that sometimes customers may have a genuine reason for not listening, such as if they have been misled by a previous agent or have had a negative experience with the business. In these cases, agents can acknowledge the customer's concerns and work to rebuild their trust in the business. By taking the time to understand the customer's perspective and addressing their concerns, agents can build a positive relationship with the customer and help them to listen to their advice and suggestions.

Remain patient, explain the reasoning behind your recommendations, and offer more information or examples to help them understand the benefits of your proposed solution.

Customers who are never satisfied 🙅‍♂️

While businesses strive to provide excellent customer service, there may be some situations where a customer may not ever be satisfied with the service they receive. Here are some possible scenarios where this may occur:

  • Some customers may have unrealistic or unreasonable demands that cannot be met by the business. For example, a customer may demand a full refund for a product they have used extensively or demand compensation for minor inconveniences. In these situations, the business may not be able to satisfy the customer's demands, leading to ongoing dissatisfaction.

  • Some customers' dissatisfaction may be due to personal biases or prejudices.

In these situations, it's important for businesses to remain professional and respectful while striving to address the customer's concerns to the best of their ability. It may also be helpful to offer alternative solutions or suggestions, such as providing a discount on future purchases or offering a different product or service that may better suit the customer's needs. Ultimately, it's important to remember that not every customer can be satisfied, and businesses should focus on providing excellent service to the best of their ability while maintaining a positive and respectful attitude.

Remain professional and polite, establish clear boundaries, and offer solutions that meet their needs while acknowledging limitations.

Customers who are dishonest 🤥

When a customer lies to customer service representatives, it can make it difficult for the representative to provide accurate and effective support. In these situations, it's important for representatives to maintain a professional and respectful demeanour while trying to uncover the truth. Asking clarifying questions and offering to investigate the issue further can help to identify any dishonesty and ensure that the appropriate action is taken. It's important for businesses to have clear policies and procedures in place to deal with situations where customers are dishonest, in order to protect both the business and other customers.

In summary, managing difficult customers requires patience, empathy, and professionalism. By setting clear boundaries, communicating expectations, and offering solutions that address their needs while acknowledging limitations, you can handle any difficult customer with grace and ease.

How Cue builds customer relationships

We listen to our customers

Taking the time to listen to our customers guarantees that we provide relevant and helpful assistance. It also makes sure that our customers feel heard and important.

We build trust through effective communication

The flip side to being a good listener is effective communication. Keep customers in the loop and work to improve transparency. Be honest, optimistic, and sincere.

We're proactive

By being proactive we can identify opportunities before they are presented. We don't wait for customers to contact us for an update, we alert them as soon as we have information for them.

We collaborate with customers

By striving to become a strategic partner, we work with our customers to identify the best way to solve their business challenges.

We reflect on what worked and what didn’t

Constantly unpacking what worked and what didn’t work for our customers or clients is critical. We focus on what worked, why it worked, and how we can deliver the same level of service to other customers.

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