Angry Eye by Hans Van Den Berg. Photograph.
Today, I want to share with you 7 tips for dealing with difficult customers. I try to implement these methods whenever I’m dealing with an upset person, whether it be in my business or personal life. And I find the more I use these ideas, the better the situation goes. So I thought you might benefit from them too.
1. Breathe. Take time to intake oxygen and let that oxygen get to your brain. You often breathe strangely when you’re frustrated and your heart rate elevates. This can cause you to be rash. But when you focus on breathing, you’re forced to calm yourself a little and think.
2. Wait. If possible, delay the confrontation a little. If you’re face-to-face, this doesn’t work. But if you are on the telephone, calmly tell your customer that you need to look into the situation further and will call them back tomorrow. You must follow through with the call when you said you would or you’ll just make the situation worse. And if you’re just emailing this customer, definitely take a day to think it through. It’s amazing how much your attitude can change in a couple hours as you mull over a situation. And actually, it gives them the same amount of time to breathe and wait, which can often help them calm down too.
3. Love. Always come at the situation with love and understanding. It’s incredibly rare that someone is out to get you (and the likelihood you got that one customer is oh-so slim!). Most likely, the situation escalated because they didn’t expect the issue to arise and were blindsided. If you can show them you understand why they are upset and really want to do what you can to fix things in a way that works for your business and for them, they’ll be a lot less snippy.
4. Create. If you find yourself getting angry at any point, you can always blow off some steam by letting out those emotions through your favorite medium. Do you do something a little more planned (like knitting)? Just grab whatever paint, colored pencils, or crayons you can find around the house and attack a piece of copy paper like there’s no tomorrow.
5. Write. If I can’t calm myself down, I pop up a Word document and write about everything I’m feeling. When I’m done, I just delete the file. It helps me work through my emotions and regain control over my own attitude. If nothing’s working, utilize your most common language – words.
6. Go outside. Sunshine and fresh air are proven to relax and uplift our spirits. It will help you attack the problem with a positive outlook so you can really come to a fair resolution for you and for your customer.
7. Be consistent. Have policies in place that deal with every situation you can imagine. Have them posted on your site and make sure there’s a link to them in your purchase confirmation emails. When a situation arises, pop up your policies and find the applicable rules. Then follow them. If you say you accept a return in their situation, accept the return. If you want to change (or add to) your policies as a result of a difficult customer, you can do that after you finish handling their situation.
How do you handle a difficult customer? Let me know in the comments.