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Tips for Handling Difficult Customers

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 10/23/2009

This article will provide tips and advice for dealing with difficult customers.

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    Dealing with difficult customers is a part of any business. It is inevitable that all business owners will need to deal with a difficult customer from time to time. How a business handles difficult customers will define them and will determine whether the business gets positive or negative word of mouth advertising. Upsetting an already difficult customer can even lead to monetary losses, especially if several difficult customers are not happy with how they are treated.

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    Think Before Taking Action

    Dealing with difficult customers requires business owners to stop and think before responding. Responding when angry can lead to a much worse situation. Responses should exclude personal emotions and be given thoughtfully and carefully. If the confrontation is not face-to-face, taking ten minutes to calm down and think will allow business owners to tackle the customer's complaints rationally.

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    It's Probably Not Personal

    Dealing with Difficult Customers When dealing with difficult customers, many business owners take it personally. They shouldn't because in many cases, the customer is being difficult due to past experiences with other companies. Customers who have had bad prior experiences with other companies are often hyper-sensitive and read into things too much and often end up becoming difficult over the smallest things.

    For example, a customer who demands tracking information on an item they didn't receive quickly probably has had issues in the past with other companies not sending their items out in a timely manner. If a situation like this occurs, it is important to calmly and clearly put the situation into perspective for the customer and assure them that their items are safely packed and on their way. This will often lead to the customer being calmer and more cooperative.

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    Both Business Owners and Customers Want the Same Thing

    Business owners and customers desire the same result: a pleasant, happy and speedy transaction. When dealing with a difficult customer, business owners can often resolve any disputes by letting the customer know they are willing to fully work with them to make them happy. Letting the customer know they are there to help will often lead to the customer becoming less difficult and easier to work with.

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    Be Clear About Guidelines

    A major part of dealing with difficult customers is letting them know the guidelines. In many cases, a customer becomes difficult because they are not clear about the company's policies. It is important to make them aware of these guidelines before a transaction even takes place to prevent them from being a difficult customer in the first place. All customers should be aware of refund policies, shipping policies, and payment policies before the transaction begins.

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    You Can't Please All Customers

    In some cases, there is nothing that can be done to please a customer. Business managers will need to simply accept this and move on to the next customer. When dealing with difficult customers that just can't be pleased, the business owner needs to think things through, stay calm, and try to offer the customer a fair deal. Once a fair resolution is presented the business owner should stick to it no matter what.