How To Deal With Difficult Clients


Share on LinkedIn

Posted by Drew Stevens on March 17, 2011 · Leave a Comment

If we keep in mind that the purpose of business is to acquire and retain customers this will ensure that our culture and our employees will always focus on customer service excellence.

Yet for the amount of time and concentration in customer service sometimes it’s important to understand that is not the representative’s fault but merely an unruly customer. This is an unfortunate occurrence but many organizations have unruly customers. Here are some methods to aid when dealing with difficult clients.

PERSONALITY STYLE – It’s important to understand that some people based upon personality and some behavioral issues will always be somewhat difficult. Take for example any of the gate agents, pilots or even baggage handlers for any airline. In most instances their main purpose is to get people to their destination in a safe manner. They don’t control the weather, they don’t control air traffic control and they don’t control the myriad of other hiccups that occur. However there are those passengers that seem to think that airlines are built for them and for no others. Unfortunately unruliness seems to be their method of operation. If we do not identify the observed behavior we get caught in a maze and have difficulty helping. A quick review of personality traits using resources such as the SELF-Profile or books such, as “Please Understand Me” are helpful.

OBJECTIVITY – Customer Service requires allegiance to facts. However there are times when both sides lack information. Pausing, patience and asking good questions can aid with confusion. Agents want to tell, customers want to tell and few want to listen. Listening is an important skill to master.

PERSONALIZATION – Never allow issues to get personal and never allow for unsolicited feedback. Customers sometimes need to vent and that is okay as long as personal feelings are not involved.

EMPATHETIC – It is useful to sympathize with the client and comprehend their frustration. Gain as many facts as possible so that you can help them.

BE WILLING TO NEGOTIATE – Sometimes customer service is a negotiation. Everything in life is. It is helpful to understand the art and science of negotiation.

THEY WILL COMPLAIN JUST TO COMPLAIN – Federal Express operates with the purpose of ensuring that packages get to their destinations overnight. The culture and the individuals exist for one reason only-overnight delivery. Yet many customers will complain automatically if the package is less than five minutes late. Some like to have more control or feel they do then the delivery company.

Here are seven simple steps when dealing with difficult customers:

1. Don’t let them get to you – Refuse to let them get personal. Keep things pragmatic and professional. Get all the facts.

2. Listen – Ask tons of questions and use the Dale Carnegie method of being genuinely interested in others.

3. Stop saying sorry – There is no need to constantly apologize. Remember it is a negotiation and repeatedly apologizing illustrates weakness.

4. Empathize – Using empathy is an effective way to deal with the customer’s feelings. Empathy isn’t about agreement, only acceptance of what the customer is saying and feeling.

5. Build rapport – People feel more comfortable with those they trust and respect. Ask many questions to get to know them.

6. Summarize – Paraphrase and summarize often to gain acknowledgement or agreement.

7. Call to action – Always create a call to action to ensure the problem is or will be resolved expeditiously.

How does your organization deal with unruly clients? Place your best practices in the comment area.

© 2011. Drew Stevens PhD. All rights reserved.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Drew Stevens
Drew J. Stevens Ph.D. (Dr. Drew) is the author of Split Second Selling and the soon to be released Ultimate Business Bible and six other business books on sales, customer loyalty, self mastery and business development solutions. Drew helps organizations to dramatically accelerate revenue and outstrip the competition. He conducts over 4 international keynotes, seminars and workshops per year.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here