How To Improve Your Interactions With Tough Customers

Humans are difficult.

There is no way around it. When they become your customers, though, it becomes your problem. Consider every customer support call between a customer and, say, a cable company. The great majority of them are not all that cordial.

General adult etiquette and human nature can be discussed another time, but the dynamic of customer service is crucial to a business' prosperity.

As technology becomes faster and faster, support teams within companies are straining to keep up with the demand for attention that customers want RIGHT NOW.

Handling those customers respectfully and with poise not only quells their presenting stress but also ensures that that customer will remain loyal to your brand.

HubSpot posted a list of seven psychological techniques to employ yourself when dealing with difficult customers. The list includes:

  1. Reflective Listening
  2. Consider the Affect Heuristic
  3. Use the Beginner's Mind
  4. Let go of fear
  5. Chunk the problem
  6. Anger is natural
  7. Stay calm

The article also made a similar list to manage the anger of difficult customers.

In general, the lists convey the importance of remaining respectful. Know that the fact that your customer is showing a lot of stress does not mean that you must feel the same amount or type of stress.

You may be concerned for the customer, of course, and their satisfaction with your product, but do not take their stress to mean that you have personally done something to wrong them.

That being said, do not convey that you are superior to the customer beyond the fact that you possess the knowledge that will solve their problem.

Show empathy within yourself first to the fact that they are stressed and having trouble. This will open you up to attentive listening (1), accepting that they may be acting out some personal bias (2), treating the customer like a teammate (3), and methodically guiding the customer through the problem (4,5).

Overall, the theme that arise from the two lists is simply to be respectful even if the customer is not respectful toward you.

Explain why you suggest certain things, thank the customer for sharing the problem or feedback with you, and always treat it like a learning experience for yourself.

What support processes do you have in place for your business?

With what kind of difficult customers do you deal?