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WAHM > Service Business Articles > Dealing with Difficult Customers

Three Tips for Dealing with Difficult Customers

Regardless of the type of internet business you own, chances are you’ve come across a customer, or two, that caused some problems. Perhaps they complained about a product or service, perhaps they expect too much, or maybe their personality just rubs the wrong way. It happens to everyone and how you deal with these customers can set the tone for your entire business. Here are three strategies for dealing with difficult customers.

Empathize. Quite often a first instinct or reaction is to become defensive with a difficult customer. This is particularly the case when someone is complaining. The majority of customers are not trained in negotiation and instead tend to come on very strong. This makes it very easy for business owners to react emotionally. Instead of letting your shackles rise and allowing yourself to feel defensive, even if you don’t react defensively, try putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. Empathize.

Empathy is a learned skill for most. We aren’t born trying to view things from another’s perspective. To begin to make empathy a habit, a skill you can tap into at a moment’s notice, practice it with family and friends. This makes it easier to step into when dealing with a difficult customer.

Often when we understand where someone is coming from, it makes it easier for us to not only deal with the person on a calm and understanding level, it also may make us reevaluate our business policies and procedures. Maybe, once you’re able to view it from your customer’s perspective, they have a valid complaint.

Respect. Respect is a two way street and like many emotions, it is contagious. Perhaps the customer is not behaving in a respectful manner, and you certainly are not being asked to respect their behavior, however if you treat your customer with respect, chances are high that they will calm down and return the favor. So what does treating a customer with respect entail? First off, it is important to listen. This is perhaps the most important way to communicate your respect for a customer. Listen to them, and communicate that you’re listening with comments like, “I hear what you’re saying,” or “I understand your anger,” and “It sounds like….” Phrases like these communicate to your customer that you are in fact listening to them and they’ll calm down and begin to communicate in a more respectful manner to you.

Stay away from the blame game. It’s easy to blame. The customer didn’t communicate their needs correctly. The shipping department is backed up. My administrative assistant missed the order. Etc…Blaming others, including the customer, doesn’t resolve the problem and it establishes a tone of unprofessional and irresponsible behavior. Certainly not what you want people to think of your company! Even if you are 100% certain the problem was entirely your customer’s fault – take the blame. Take the responsibility. Say, “I’m sorry that this happened.” And then go about the process of resolving the issue or taking steps to correct the problem.

Taking the time to listen to your customer, even in the most difficult of circumstances, can ensure that no one walks away from your business feeling slighted and disrespected. In fact, quite often the most difficult customers, when treated with respect, can turn into your most profitable customers and the ones who will sing your praises to anyone who listens.

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