Difficult Customers and How to Deal with Them

You can’t escape them: difficult customers.

Fortunately they don’t make up most of your client base but they seem to take up a lot of your time! How to deal with the difficult people is just part of the job and if you’re in customer service, then it’s unavoidable.

Here are a few tips on dealing with those difficult customers.


Understanding your role and knowing how to deal with potentially antagonistic customers can be helped with knowledge of the service or product. Preparing beforehand for eventualities with options that you can offer can really aid you in your ‘defence’.

If it’s possible with history of the customer, this can be another great tool to arm yourself with.


With every issue or problem that arises, there are opportunities to learn, grow and develop. Some would even say there are better opportunities for expansion of your abilities in crisis than there are in everything going right.

The unsatisfied customer can even be transformed into your most loyal customer by taking the bad situation and producing a better outcome.


Sometimes the customer needs to vent about their problem and it can be tempting to just leave it as it is or do the bear minimum so the problem can just go away. How about giving the customer space to get what’s off their chest and changing it up a gear: if it’s by email, give them a call or arrange to chat with them face to face, showing you’re taking them seriously but that you care about a satisfactory outcome for them.


Indentifying your customer’s personality and adapting your approach to them can have a massive impact on resolving issues. The ‘disc framework’ idea – used as a sales tool is just as good in the realm of customer service.

First you identify the personality type of your customer and then cater your solution to how they would like the problem to be solved.

If they are Dominant then they will be Task and Outgoing oriented
If they have an Inspiring personality they will need an Outgoing and People oriented solution
When they are Cautious then they are Task and Reserved in their approach to people
The Supportive type are Reserved and People focused

Using this model can be helpful – for more info visit the DISC Personality Testing Website


Not everyone is civil and difficult customers can often be verbally abusive, which isn’t always to hear and we’ve all got stories on how badly we’ve been treated. There is a fine line between being empathic to the cusomter’s needs and the boundaries we need to put in place.

Identify where the line is and don’t get emotionally involved or you’ll carry it around with you when you’re not working and that it effect your overall performance if you’re not switching off.


When your customer feels they have been wronged, apologise but don’t ramble on: let them know you are sorry but monologuing isn’t going to help you or them. Find the middle ground and find that solution, being sorry is good; being the problem solver is better.


Lying isn’t good when it comes to business in any area, especially customer service and sometimes the solution isn’t apparently or isn’t even there at that point. Bad news sometimes just needs to happen. A big myth is that bad stuff can’t lead to customer loyalty: it’s in how you deal with the problem that sees whether loyalty flourishes or not.

Committ to resolving the issue and be transparent with where you are and if there’s an unquantifiable element then let the customer know. They just want to know you’re trying your best to solving their problem.


We’re all human and on rare occasions you’re not going to know everything and you’re not even supposed to! If you’ve got a team, rely on them and their experience (which will be different than yours) to fixing the issues that arise.

Don’t forget that there will always be others who have had more experience than you, asking isn’t a weakness if the result is in the customer’s favour.


Solving issues is one thing but what does great customer services look like?

Has the customer unfortunately had a bad experience, then make it a better one: discount codes, bottles of wine (in appropriate), cake, credit etc. are all ways of showing your customer that loyalty pays.

Get creative and think of ways you can turn that customers from annoyed to happy!

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