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Difficult customers can be found in all industries. They come in all different forms from the persistent late payer to the serial complainer to the needy customer that won’t stop asking questions. By understanding the right way to deal with these customers, you can prevent difficulties from escalating (and protect your sanity). Here are just a few important dos and don’ts for dealing with difficult customers.
Don’t get angry
Some customers will keep pushing you. They may even act abusively towards you. It’s important to keep your cool for the sake of your professional reputation – if you start getting angry, they may start bad-mouthing you all over the internet. Remain calm at all times so that you don’t make the situation worse.
Don’t ignore them
Ignoring difficult customers is also not the way to deal with them. In fact, it’s likely to rile them up even further. Confront the issue as soon as you can. If you can’t come to a solution and need to call them back, make sure that you do call them back.
Do take the time to listen
It’s important to always listen to the customer. Even in the case of late paying customers, it’s important that you listen to their side of the story (even if you know they’re making excuses). When it comes to customers that won’t stop pestering you, you may need to eventually draw the line so that you’re not spending all of your time talking to them. Make them understand that you are busy and that you’d prefer to schedule a meeting in which all problems can be discussed.
Do show empathy
Responding to complaints in a robotic ‘this is company policy’ fashion is likely to make customers angry. Show compassion for their troubles and then try to solve the issue together. Even if they are in the wrong, initially showing empathy will make them feel you’re on their side, which will make it easier to argue your point and get them to understand.
Don’t hesitate to get legal support
Some customers may grow increasingly difficult and may threaten legal action or outright refuse to pay you. In these cases, it could be important you get the necessary legal support to deal with these customers. An attorney may be able to help you negotiate a problem without it going to court. If it’s beyond that point, they can help to argue your case. In the case of late paying customers, a collection agency may be required if a customer has continuously failed to pay. An attorney may also be able to help if the issue goes to court.
Do support your colleagues/employees
The customer doesn’t always come first. There are times when it’s important to stick up for colleagues and employees. Not showing support for employees and colleagues will make them feel undervalued and could affect the support they have for you. Never put down colleagues in front of customers – even if your colleagues are in the wrong.