Halloween Edition: Surviving The Customer From Hell
(888) 370-6026

Learn More

Halloween Edition: Surviving The Customer From Hell

SHARE

You might have heard some ghost stories as a child, but if you’re in the business world, there is nothing quite as scary as a bad customer. From the chronic complainer to the downright hard to handle, dealing with horrible customers can be like taking an extended vacation in Dracula’s mansion. No matter what you do, they always spot something wrong. Regardless of how good your product is, they still seek reasons to not pay. Thus, to help you detour your trip down that Dante road, here are 6 tips to deal with those trouble clients.

Halloween Edition: Surviving The Customer From Hell

1) Listen – Listening is extremely important in every avenue of customer service, especially when dealing with difficult customers. The customer ultimately wants to know that you care about them and understand their problem, so always be willing to listen to what they have to say, before doing anything else.  As Snagajob writes, “The customer is more likely to be responsive if you let him or her vent,” so sometimes the best thing to do is to just sit back and let that happen. Repeat what they say back to them, so that they know you’re paying attention.

2) Empathize – Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Empathy can be an excellent tool to play towards the customer’s emotions and build a sense of trust. Be sure to use phrases like, “I understand,” and echo the issue back so that they sense you truly grasp their feelings. Remember, as Alan Fairweather says, empathy doesn’t necessarily mean acceptance, so you can still understand where the customer is coming from while, at the same time, taking blame for the issue.  Also, try to avoid saying “sorry”, for the more times you say it, the more it loses its meaning.  Be apologetic but make sure the customer knows that you understand both what they are saying and how they are feeling.

3) Don’t take anything personally – Always remember to stay calm and never take anything personally. While at times this can be hard, especially when dealing with a difficult customer, you must always keep your emotions in check—even if the customer’s aren’t. Regardless of what the customer says, never get defensive or confrontational. This only makes things worse.  If you are nice, courteous, positive and calm, then the customer will be more likely to adopt that same attitude.

4) Work together to create a solution – Work with the client to resolve the issue to everybody’s agreement. Ask the customer, “How can we make it better?” and see if there is common ground on which to work. Even after the problem is addressed, make sure to follow-up with a letter or a phone call. This reassures the effectiveness of the solution and also helps to strengthen your relationship with this once difficult customer.

5) Know how to protect yourself – There will unfortunately be times when clients simply want to take advantage of you. In this case, always having your back covered is a good way to take the stress out of the situation. By creating contracts early that clearly delineate not only the scope of a project but also what is expected (such as the terms of payment) you can ensure that both sides know exactly what is anticipated.

6) Spot the bad ones – It’s a sad reality, but bad customers do indeed exist and nothing you can do will change that. For this reason, you should be on the lookout for signs early so you can better allocate your resources when dealing with them.  Some signs, as Tom Taulli points out, are that the customer constantly chooses based on promotions, has a really high service cost relative to what they spend and is prone to switching services on a whim. While certainly there are signs to consider, you must always be careful when profiling customers, for it’s never a good thing to get it wrong.

 

Do you have a customer horror story? Leave us the details in the comments below and let us know how you dealt with them! Happy Halloween from the Funding Gates team!

 

 

This post was written by Arie Hefter.

 

Share us with your friends!

Tags:

2 Responses to Halloween Edition: Surviving The Customer From Hell

  1. Harry says:

    Arie – Excellent topic for discussion. Every business owners encounters these customers from hell once in a while. They have to learn how to deal with them effectively without alienating the good ones. I particularly like your advice in 2 and 3. Many times by empathizing with them will calm them down. If that doesn’t work you have to learn not take it personally.

    Another important lesson for business owners is to learn to say NO to the demands that are unreasonable. You have to take a stand at some point and let the customer go. I wrote an article on how business owners can actually improve their sales by learning to say no. Would love to hear your views on it. Here is the article – http://www.smallbizviewpoints.com/2012/04/07/how-saying-no-to-customers-can-benefit-your-business/

  2. Meredith Wood says:

    Harry,

    Thanks for stopping by! I really appreciate you mentioning your post. It’s hard to say no to customers, but in most situations, they are paying you to be the expert, so you do know what’s best!

    Best,
    Meredith

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get invoices paid faster. Avoid collection agency fees. Automate the entire debt colection process with Funding Gates, the world's first CRM platform for all your receivables needs.