How to Deal with Difficult Customers

It’s happened to every customer service rep. They answer the phone or say hello and the customer seems angry or upset right from the start. It’s easy to fall into the trap of taking things personally and becoming defensive or angry. But that never helps.

In the training guide, Handling Difficult Customers, the authors take readers through seven steps to transform a dissatisfied customer into a satisfied, loyal, long-term customer. The first step is “Let the customer vent.”

“In most cases, customers just want to let off some steam,” say the authors. “They want to get their dissatisfaction or a perceived slight off their chests, and they want someone to listen and acknowledge them.”

Moving too quickly into problem-solving and failing to give customers a chance to express their feelings is likely to backfire. Some customers will blow off steam in 15 seconds and others will take five minutes. Give them the time they need to work through their frustration.

While the customer is venting or telling their story, you can begin to develop a rapport, or an emotional connection, by using words and phrases that show your interest and understanding. For example, use phrases like, “That sounds frustrating,” “I see,” “Go on,” or “And then what happened?”

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