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How to Deal With Difficult Customers – Tips and Examples

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Customer service has evolved into a crucial aspect of any business, capable of making or breaking customer loyalty. As much as 96% of customers worldwide say customer service is an important factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand. However, as we wade through the turbulent waters of customer service, we often find ourselves wondering how to deal with difficult customers effectively. While managing difficult customers and handling customer complaints isn’t easy, there are always certain ways of doing so.

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An old adage tells us that “the customer is always right.” While this isn’t universally true, understanding their perspective is an invaluable asset.

It’s a common scenario: a customer, upset and frustrated, storms into a store, or calls customer service, fuming and demanding immediate redressal.

The intensity of their emotions can be daunting and difficult to handle.

However, research indicates that it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience.

So, dealing with disgruntled customers becomes more than a simple interaction—it becomes an opportunity to make things right and forge a deeper connection with the customer.

In this blog post, we will navigate through five common scenarios and discuss how to deal with difficult customers.

So, let’s embark on this journey together, and uncover the art of dealing with difficult customers.

Here’s how to deal with difficult customers.

Customer Service Tips For Difficult Customers

Embrace Empathy

It’s easy to lose sight of empathy when faced with an irate customer. But remember, anger often stems from frustration and disappointment. Make sure your responses are empathetic.

Start by acknowledging their feelings, saying something like,

“I understand why you’re upset. I’m here to help you.”

Practice Active Listening

Ensure you give angry customers your full attention.

Active listening plays a crucial role here. Summarize their concerns to ensure you’ve understood correctly and make them feel heard. For instance, you can say,

“If I understand correctly, your main issue is…”

Keep Your Cool

Maintaining composure is critical when learning how to deal with difficult customers.

Any sign of defensiveness can exacerbate the situation.

According to a study, 72% of customers blame their bad customer service interaction on having to explain their problems to multiple people.

So, ensure you’re the person who brings the cycle of frustration to an end.

Recommended: 75 Eye-Opening Statistics on the Impact of Customer Experience

Offer a Solution

Once you’ve heard them out, it’s time to offer a solution. It’s crucial to be solution-oriented rather than defensive.

Ask them how they would like the problem to be resolved or suggest possible remedies.

Often, an angry customer just wants a solution to their problem.

Follow Up

Following up with an angry customer can make them feel valued.

A follow-up call or email to ensure the proposed solution worked effectively or to address any new issues can leave a positive impression on the customer.

Recommended: How to Increase Your Customer Satisfaction in 2023

Difficult Customer Scenarios and Solutions

Scenario 1: The Volcano Eruptor

Situation: A customer calls in, spewing fiery rage about a product that broke just days after purchase.

They’re hotter than molten lava and your attempts to soothe them seem to have the cooling effect of a stick of dynamite in a bonfire.

Solution: Keep your cool like the other side of the pillow.

Let them vent, then slide in with:

“I’m really sorry you’ve found yourself in this steamy situation. Let’s cool things down and walk through our product’s ‘Phoenix Protocol’ – where we rise from the ashes and sort this out!”

Scenario 2: The Discount Ninja

Situation: A customer swoops into your email inbox, executing a high-flying demand for a massive discount due to a tiny hiccup on their previous order. Their expectations are soaring higher than a ninja star can fly.

Solution: Counter with a gentle but firm “Parry Email”.

Try this:

“While your ninja skills are impressive, I can’t grant the massive discount you’ve asked for. However, how about a smaller ‘Ninja Appreciation’ discount? The art of compromise is a true ninja virtue.”

Scenario 3: The Non-Stop Nudger

Situation: You’ve got a customer with an issue that’s tangled like a ball of yarn in a kitten convention.

But, they’re ringing you more frequently than Big Ben, demanding an immediate fix.

Solution: It’s time for a dose of reality, with a side of charm:

“Just like a good mystery novel, some cases take a few twists and turns to resolve. Let’s agree on a ‘No-Surprises Schedule’. I promise to keep you updated like clockwork – just less frequently than our friend Big Ben!”

Scenario 4: The Social Media Matador

Situation: A customer wields a negative review like a red flag on your company’s social media page, daring you to charge. The public challenge threatens to gore your reputation.

Solution: Be the agile matador and deftly sidestep the charge:

“Ole! Sorry to hear about this bull of a problem. Let’s step out of the arena to sort it out – please check your DMs so we can transform this bullfight into a fiesta!”

Scenario 5: The Waffler

Situation: A customer can’t decide on what they want, flip-flopping more than a pancake on Shrove Tuesday.

They’ve made more returns than a boomerang in a wind tunnel and your resources are starting to drip like syrup.

Solution: Try a sweet approach:

“Let’s set up a dedicated ‘Waffle House’ session to find your perfect order. Just like the perfect waffle, it might take a bit of time to cook up, but the result will be worth the wait!”

Conclusion – How to Deal With Difficult Customers

As we wrap up this comprehensive guide on dealing with difficult customers, we come to appreciate that each challenging interaction presents an opportunity to fortify the bond between the customer and the brand.

It’s not an easy task, but with the right approach, what begins as a complaint can transform into a commendation, and a disgruntled customer can turn into a devoted advocate.

The heart of effective customer service lies in empathy, active listening, solution-oriented communication, and maintaining professional composure.

These key skills help diffuse anger, establish trust, and pave the way for constructive dialogue.

Even when a solution isn’t readily available, transparency and consistent communication can help manage customer expectations and maintain their trust.

Dealing with difficult customers is an inevitable part of the customer service landscape.

However, by viewing these encounters as learning opportunities, businesses can continually refine their customer service strategies, improve their offerings, and elevate their overall customer experience.

In conclusion, the road to mastering customer interactions may be bumpy and fraught with challenges, but it is these very challenges that help businesses grow.


  • How can I de-escalate a situation with an angry customer?

De-escalation begins with empathy, patience, and active listening. Keep your tone calm, your responses professional, and focus on finding a solution to their problem.

  • What should I avoid when dealing with angry customers?

Avoid interrupting, getting defensive, or blaming the customer. Such reactions can worsen the situation and push the customer further away.

  • What if the customer’s demands cannot be met?

Be honest and clear with your communication. If you can’t meet their demands, explain why and offer an alternative solution.

  • How should I handle a customer who becomes abusive?

While it’s important to maintain professionalism, you shouldn’t tolerate abuse. Politely yet firmly inform them that you’re happy to help, but only if the conversation remains respectful.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


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