Tackling Troublesome Customers


By Tahmid Sadman

It will certainly be naïve to expect smooth sailing in the realm of customer service. The terrain of customer service is indeed rough as customers of different hues, with different slants, fickle needs and sky high expectations are always in the pipeline. All these reinforces the need for businesses to inject extra caution when dealing with this particular sect of customers who can effortlessly give the most seasoned of customer service reps a torrid time. Troubling customers can erode productivity, increase costs, engage in negative WOM and may even put off other customers. Hence the need to fend them off and actually turn them into more co-operative is really important.

There are various types of difficult customers- angry, impatient, stubborn, having unrealistic expectations etc. While it is true that the multifarious factors are at play influencing the behavior and personalities of people, it is also true that concerted efforts can negate the unwanted repercussions that these customers bring to the table. It may be an energy sapping process, but hey, who wants to lose a customer right? So, let’s take a look at a number of ploys we can employ to handle difficult customers and potentially align them to our convenience.

  1. Give your customers the floor– This is the starting point. Customers need to be given the opportunity to voice their concerns or make their queries before those can be processed. If they are being deprived of the chance to do that, then the chance to arrive at a reconciliation will just vanish into thin air! Businesses must ensure customers can relay their grievances in a comfortable setting- this assuages some of the anger that tends to build up in the customer.
  2. Listen actively– The next step is to listen. Listen with rapt attention. This serves several purposes. First, listening actively helps you pinpoint the exact needs or problems of the customer. Secondly, listening actively helps you extract the non-verbal cues. This will help the customer service rep to understand better the customer from different angles (the urgency of his/her grievances or whether he/she is comfortable in communicating his/her needs.) Thirdly, active listening will boost the customer’s morale in the sense that their grievances are being handled with proper care.
  3. Explain– It is necessary to explain the issues at hand in a structured way. There needs to be coherence in the way customer service reps’ elucidation. This will help the customer connect the dots easily and will assure him/her that time is not being wasted.
  4. Go the extra mile– Customer service reps must go the extra mile if a situation demands. They may ask for extra information, show the way a product should be handled, and provide resources to the customers for further reference. A business must have these contingency mechanisms in place to confront any untoward situation.
  5. Recapitulate the instructions– This precludes the possibility of information overload. By summarizing the instructions, the customer reps ensures that the situation facing the aggrieved customer is streamlined to a certain extent. Such a move will also ensure more effective understanding on the part of the customers.
  6. Keeping records– It is important to keep a database that keeps track of difficult customers, their purchase records, purchase frequency and the nature of their queries. This will help businesses identify patterns relating to the above metrics and help satisfy their needs better.
  7. Acknowledging mistakes– If the business is responsible for any grievances then the business must acknowledge the gaffe. Not doing so will exacerbate the situation and put the business in a negative spotlight. Negative Word of Mouth may soon follow. This may wreak havoc on the business’s sales, revenues and profits. So it is imperative that business realizes the mistake, accepts it and compensate the customer(s) proportionately.


Source: SDAsia

Tahmid Sadman is a guest contributor to GradInsights, the career research service of GradConnect. He can be reached at tsadman3@gmail.com. More articles from Tahmid and the GradInsights team can be found at www.grad-insights.com.

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