There will be times when you will run across a difficult customer who is intent on making your job more challenging and has no intention of changing their tune. In these situations, it is up to you to determine whether that person is a solid customer with a difficult personality you are willing to manage, or if the customer is more trouble than they are worth.
However, the majority of difficult customers may be that way for a specific reason. These difficult customers can often be transformed by simply identifying the reasons for the difficulty and changing the circumstance.
Their Expectations Are Not Met
Most of our disappointments in life come from setting expectations that are not adequately met. This is particularly true for your customers, and it can become a source of major contention for your service staff. To ensure customer expectations are met, make sure you establish realistic expectations from day one. Take the time to explain your products and policies carefully, rather than letting your customers form their own conclusions about what you will do for them.
Your Customer Service Staff is Not Listening to Them
Customers want to know that your company cares about their questions and concerns. Teach your staff to practice active listening skills that involve writing down customer concerns, repeating them back to the customer to avoid misunderstandings, and then providing solutions. When staff listens, customers are usually more willing to cooperate with your business policies.
You Are Not Providing Workable Solutions
There is nothing more frustrating than feeling a company does not care enough about your business to find viable answers to your needs. Nearly all business policies and procedures can be bent from time to time, particularly for good customers with a legitimate need. Teach your staff to replace "no's" with solutions that could work for your customers' situations. Customers are much more likely to listen to alternatives that are presented in a positive light.
Your Policies Changed on Them
There are times when companies must change their policies, but this is rarely good news for customers who are set in their ways. In order to make the transition easier, give your regular customers ample warning about the change that is going to take place. Present the benefits they will enjoy from the change. By transitioning slowly and cautiously, it is less likely that necessary changes will result in difficult customers.
They Want an Apology for an Error
In many cases, customers that have not been treated right simply want an apology for the poor service or error. In some cases, the apology can be accompanied by a discount for a follow up visit to make up for a customer's inconvenience or frustration. Customers that are sufficiently cared for are much more likely to return to your business because they have confidence in knowing you will take good care of them, regardless of the situation.
Difficult customers are a challenge for customer service staff, but many of the difficulties can be easily managed through some savvy customer service techniques. Understand why customers may become difficult and then address those issues to find solutions that produce more satisfied customers every day.