6 Ways to Handle Difficult Customers with Ease


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Regardless of what kind of work you do, it’s possible you have experienced a troublesome client at one time or another. It’s even more probable you have experienced too many troublesome clients, at once. Possibly – quite possibly – you are even a troublesome client yourself (to others… once in awhile). All things considered, customer service these days isn’t generally what it ought to be.

The client may be right (much more than you’d like them to be)… although that doesn’t give them the right to be difficult or hard to deal with. Anybody who’s ever worked in client administration will get behind me when I say… There are clients out there who are pure hell.

1. Tune in

First off, tune in. Try not to attempt to talk over the client or contend with them. Give the client a chance to have their say, regardless of the possibility that you recognize what they will say next, and regardless of the possibility that they might not have all the data you need to make a clear and formed opinion. It’s possible, as well, that they have their ideas and difficulties are mixed up and backwards. (Memory is a fickle thing.) As you tune in to what they say, accept the open door to collaborate with the client towards a mutually-beneficial solution.

A good listener also engages people’s hearts and minds with a few, expertly-worded questions. Asking questions not only shows who you’re talking to that you’re listening to them, but listening well encourages them to continue talking. We, as a species, love talking about ourselves.

2. Lower Your Voice

Bring down your voice. On the off chance that the client gets louder, begin talking all the more gradually and in a lower volume. Control the situation. Your cool, calm and collected air will be reflected back to you by malevolent customers. (As has been noted by social psychologists, weaker people love mirroring those with authority.) As you approach the circumstance with a quiet and calm personality, they’ll mirror you in an attempt to seem cordial.

Fundamentally, we’re hard-wired (as a species) to follow the example of professionals who appear calm, assertive, and dominant. Assert your dominance by lowering your voice (in times of tension), this mirroring will help sooth tensions and keep the situation from exploding – something difficult customers, for one reason or another, seem to love doing.

3. Speed-Meditate

One way to do this, in times of trouble, is to immediately stop what you’re doing. One of the most ideal approaches to quiet down, to feel focused and in charge, is to promptly (and swiftly) stop talking. Be sure to let your converser that you need a moment to yourself to think.

An age-old classic is by counting down from one to ten, and taking 3-5 full, deep breaths before answering a question or talking. This timeless Zen-breathing exercise (which helps you focus on your breath, allowing you to calm down easier)… it’s helpful to repeat a mantra to yourself. Recite a positive, life-affirming mantra that you believe with your soul. One I frequently like to repeat is “I can serenely deal with this situation. I am unstoppable. I treat all problems as opportunities to be creative and as a result my life is vastly enriched.”

It’s good to take a break from regular work once-in-while. The break should add some pleasure, freshness, enthusiasm in you. Going for a weekend vacation with your partner, family or friends will help you forgot all the creeping, crawling zombie talks. But, remember, once you’re back to work, they (zombie-thoughts) will start to hunt you back. So, mediate! Relax. Smile. Take Breaks

4. They’re All Watching (And Judging) You

Imagine you are not talking just to the client, but rather to a crowd of people that is viewing the communication. This way, every “customer” will get a full view of how you treat other customers. If these other customers get to see, “first-hand”, how you treat other people… you might just lose business.

There is a quote, said by whom I cannot remember, to which the author says, “The person who behaves differently in front of company, compared to when she is alone, is never free.” Or to the equivalent of “Behave alone as you do when you’re in public.”

However, you make heads or tails of it, the point is this: People respond to themselves and society differently when a crowd surrounds. Speak to your customer as if there were a thousand other customers watching the conversation, secretly determining whether or not to continue doing business with you… based on your interactions with just one customer.

This works in your favour even more-so, since the person usually compliments your professional behaviour (during times of tension) to friends and family. Ensuring a referral is your way and more business and profit as well.

5. Clients Are NOT Generally Right

This mantra, while genuine, does not give clients the privilege to nonsensically constrain incomprehensible requests on you or your business.

This comment has become a “slogan” of sorts – unfairly so. There are some unreasonable, demanding, narrow-minded and tunnel-vision people out there. I’m willing to bet they couldn’t conversate coherently with a 5-year-old – yet, are expected to be given “the right of passage” in a business transaction?

No, customers aren’t ALWAYS right. Remember: you, as a worker, have the right to refuse service to whomever you please. Whether you own the business or are an employee: you have the right to deny whom you do business with. Hoity-toity, holier-than-thou customers have no authority over this right – as much as they may curse up a storm trying to prove otherwise.

6. Hold All The Cards

Reminding individuals that you’re not in the doormat business shows your power. Power is good. 48 Laws of Power by New York Times’ best-seller Robert Greene is a phenomenal book that shows you examples throughout history of (in)famous people gaining, losing, or usurping and retaining power. This book is a must-read for anybody who wants to learn the art of negotiation and powerhouse/control tactics that have dominated the Elite Circles of Society for countless millennia. (It’s not your typical business/self-help book.)

Here are a few chapter titles from the book:

  • Always Say Less than Necessary
  • Get others to do the Work for you, but Always Take the Credit
  • Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability
  • Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker – Seem Dumber than your Mark

Tip: “Remember”, You Can’t Choose Your Customers

While this seems to negate my previous point, it doesn’t. Here’s why: Let’s say I wanted Bill Gates as a customer. However, he turned out to be a whiny, complaining and self-entitled aristocrat that I loathed doing business with; my displeasure doesn’t negate the fact that he is a paying customer… whether I like that fact or not.

Remembering this is key: you can choose customers to talk with… but you can’t choose the customer base.

Otherwise we would all live in a utopian paradise having our every needs and desires fulfilled. (Which isn’t anyone’s reality as far as I know.)

It’s important to remember that issues will happen, individuals will gripe and business will advance. This is the way of business – particularly when it’s revolved around client benefit. The manner in which you handle customers reflects your entire business; frustrations, annoyances, and grievances don’t remove the fact that handling customers effectively keeps the business afloat.

Himanshu Agarwal
Himanshu Agarwal is the Founder & CEO of a Digital Marketing firm SmartWeb. He is an online market analyst, startup strategist and a writer. He has written on several topics including content marketing and technology. When not writing or on laptop, he loves spending his time reading inspiration books and watching movies.


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