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Difficult Customers? 5 Ways To Deal With Them

In a perfect world, every customer would be happy every time they use your service or product. Even if you want this to be the case and put everything you have into mastering the art of customer satisfaction, pleasing everyone isn’t going to happen. Customer happiness – and lack of – is broadcast so openly on social media channels, that if a wound is left open and not dealt with quickly, word will spread and your reputation can take a downward spiral. It therefore pays to grow and work on gaining an excellent reputation in your industry and deal with difficult customers the right way and rapidly, even if they are proving particularly difficult. Take a look at some of these tips to help deal with customers who aren’t content.

Be Ready & Don’t Ignore

It’s important to be ready and prepared well ahead of time for any sort of conflict or dispute that may arrive, often out of nowhere. When anything unexpected does happen, react to it immediately; allowing it to linger will only make matters worse. A survey in 2013 found that 31% of customers will post online following bad customer service and while sensibly it makes sense to deal with matters like this as soon as they are seen, many go unanswered. A survey in 2011 found that up to 70% of complaints on Twitter are ignored. Training your staff or Virtual Assistants for such conflict is very important, even if complaints are a rarity; they will handle it right when it is needed.

Listen Intently & Understand

Listen to what the customer has to say and try to view what they have experienced through their eyes, rather than your own as a business owner. Why are they upset? Are they looking for a refund or a replacement? Some customers will be right in what they have to say and their feedback might even be a learning curve in a particular aspect or provide insight into something that you were clueless about and needs improvement. Some customers may be wrong, but you still need to listen. It is easy to be defensive – especially at the start – but this can prevent you from really understanding what they are unhappy about. By listening and seeing things from their perspective, you can get a big picture of what has happened and where you can make a wrong, right.


When you have listened and know what they are displeased about, choose your resolution. These will range from discounts to refunds, or if it is a complaint about someone they are working with, a change of staff. It is important to let them know that you want to resolve the situation. For many your chosen solution will be satisfactory and the conflict will end, but there are always those who will never be pleased no matter what the result. Something might conflict with your policies as a company or their requests are simply irrational. At points like this it is difficult to know where to go, but it is not worth going beyond what your best offer was; you can do your utmost, but some customers will simply never be pleased.

Document Everything

No matter what the resolution, whether resolved or not, ensure that everything is documented from start to finish. It will save time, money and any challenges that may arise if the issue ever comes up again; without anything in writing, it will be difficult to prove. For satisfied customers, send them a written email as a follow up to confirm that the issue is settled. For any customers where their issue was not 100% dealt with, detail to them what happened and why a resolution was not met. It is written proof of what transpired.

The Learning Curve

Customers are the heart of your business and yet sometimes not everyone can be pleased. No matter what the issue, ensure that you use the situation as a learning exercise about areas you potentially need to develop and where you can be concentrating on to ensure that the problem doesn’t happen again. As above, use your documentation to see if there are regular patterns that are similar and use the feedback from the customers to guarantee that any changes that need to be made are put into place to prevent comparable conflict in the future.

About the author Audrey Fairbrother is the Marketing Manager here at Boldly, when she's not spreading information about the benefits and joys of a premium remote team, she enjoys drinking a good coffee or going for a run in her hometown of Denver, CO.

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