How Do I Deal With a Difficult Customer?


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How Do I Deal With a Difficult Customer?

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How Do I Deal With a Difficult Customer?

From matching emotional levels to giving undivided attention, here are 12 answers to the question, “What are tips for dealing with a difficult customer?”

  • Show Empathy and Relate To Them
  • Call the Customer
  • Offer a Solution or Alternate Option
  • Remain Calm and Professional
  • Use the Echo Effect
  • Avoid Defensiveness at All Costs
  • Keep Your Promises
  • Take a Step Back and Identify the Issue
  • Stop, Drop, and Listen
  • Don’t Take It Personally
  • Exhibit Compassion
  • Actively Listen to Their Concerns

Show Empathy and Relate to Them

Difficult or upset customers are in a much different emotional state than the employee interacting with them. They may be angry, pushy, or just simply difficult. This can be very frustrating to deal with as an employee and can even cause you to lose your cool with the customer.

The key here is to work to establish empathy for what they are concerned or upset about. This allows you to get them on the same communication and emotional level as you. Once you match their communication and emotional level, true communication can begin. After that, you can work with them to problem solve and find a solution or explanation that appeases their issues.

Relating to the customer allows their guard to drop and gives you the chance for a solution sale with their aid. Working with you instead of against you is the best way to ensure customer sales and satisfaction.

Mark SmithMark Smith
Program Chair, University of Advancing Technology 

Call the Customer

I have been selling custom online dental products since 2009 and have had to deal with my fair share of difficult customers over the years. The number one trick I have is to talk with them directly over the phone.

It’s easy for a customer to just leave a complaint or bad review for a company, but when the owner calls and says, “You left a review for my business and I want to fix any issues,” it puts a personal touch on the company.

Most of the time, I can fix the complaint within a minute on the phone. It’s so much easier than going back and forth a bunch of times by email. It also shows the customer that they are dealing with an owner who cares about their customers.

Evan McCarthyEvan McCarthy
President and CEO, SportingSmiles

Offer a Solution or Alternate Option

One key tip for dealing with a difficult customer is to offer a solution that addresses their needs. This can be challenging, as the customer may have complex or unique concerns that require a creative approach.

However, by taking the time to truly understand the customer’s perspective and concerns, you can offer a solution that is tailored to their specific needs. If possible, try to offer several options or alternatives so that the customer feels that they have a choice in the matter.

This can help to build trust and show your commitment to providing excellent customer service, even in challenging situations. By offering a solution that addresses the customer’s needs, you can turn a difficult situation into a positive experience for both you and the customer.

Ann YoungAnn Young
CEO, Fix The Photo

Remain Calm and ProfessionalIt’s important to remain calm and professional when dealing with a difficult customer. Avoid reacting emotionally or getting defensive, as this can escalate the situation and make things worse.

Instead, remain polite and professional, and focus on understanding the customer’s concerns and finding a solution that addresses their needs.

Rene DelgadoRene Delgado
Founder and CEO, The Indoor Golf Shop

Use the Echo Effect

Difficult customers are often wanting to let off some steam. Despite your hard work, they just want to rant and complain, and it’s tough to listen to them without becoming defensive and responding—that’s the WORST thing to do.

The best thing you can do is stop talking and let them talk. Be very receptive in your body language and listen to them get what they want to say out loud. Eventually, they’ll finish their rant, and want your thoughts. Here, you’re already on the front foot because they feel listened to, but then you use the “echo effect”.

By repeating people’s words and phrases in a conversation, psychologists found that it massively improves social interaction and thus coined the term “echo effect”.

You can repeat their phrases back to them, explain how you feel you’ve done so far (your defense), and then express your commitment to alter things in the future in order to reconcile their concerns. They will be like putty in your hands!

Louis SchoemanLouis Schoeman
Director, Forex Suggest

Avoid Defensiveness at All Costs

The last thing you want to do if you are dealing with a difficult customer is to get on the defensive. By avoiding defensiveness, you can better understand the customer’s concerns and perspective. This allows you to respond appropriately and offer effective solutions.

Remaining calm and professional in the face of criticism or complaints shows your commitment to providing excellent customer service. This can help diffuse tense situations and foster a positive relationship with the customer.

Khanh TranKhanh Tran
Growth Manager, Majorca Villa Finder

Keep Your Promises

One of the primary causes of dissatisfied customers‌ is a failure to deliver on commitments. If you follow through on your promises, you won’t have to worry about any unhappy consumers, and your relationships with them will be more productive.

Customers will be satisfied with your services if you provide them with useful information, such as an estimated time of arrival (ETA), within the same day, for example. If you keep your commitments and deliver as promised, you can build consumer loyalty. The client will respect your honesty if you cannot finish on time. Still, if they don’t get it, explain why it’s taking so long to sort it out.

Dean LeeDean Lee
Head of E-commerce, 88Vape

Take a Step Back and Identify the Issue

When dealing with a difficult customer, remember that most don’t want to be difficult. They’re reacting with frustration because they’re having a problem. Take a step back and identify the actual issue. Apologizing for any inconvenience or dissatisfaction and echoing what the customer tells you can make them feel heard.

For example, if a customer says their order is incorrect, acknowledge what went wrong and apologize without excuses. Let them know how you will make it right to reassure them and answer their questions. You can even let them know if you change a procedure, workflow, or employee training to make sure someone will better address the issue. To help smooth things over, you can also offer a discount or free extra, or put them in touch with someone higher up to make a personal apology.

Robert HimmaughRobert Himmaugh
Office Manager, Acadian Windows

Stop, Drop, and Listen to Difficult Customers

We have always held the attitude that it is important to treat our customers as though they are family. And as anyone knows, the family can be tricky; not everyone always gets along. For customer service challenges, our goal is to listen fully before providing any sort of response. It’s important to get a full picture of what is going on before trying to act.

There isn’t anything we haven’t seen with challenging customer demands. We might be a big company, but for customer service challenges, we like to think small and tackle each one as it comes. The three biggest things that we have found helpful are listening, taking ownership, and staying with the problem until you solve the problem.

David Weller
Boss, Sterling Sky

Don’t Take It Personally

When customers are having difficulties, keep in mind that the customer’s negative emotions are not targeted at you personally. Keep this in mind whenever you receive negative feedback from a customer. It is important to remember that the behaviors of others are not a reflection of who you are.

Mathew BowleyMathew Bowley
Head of Marketing, Solmar Villas

Exhibit Compassion

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to empathize with the consumer and their predicament. Having the ability to empathize with the customer and comprehend their plight allows you to better deal with their problems. You may impress your clients and stand out from the competition by using this technique.

Shakzod KhabibovShakzod Khabibov
Founder, Natura Market

Actively Listen to Their Concerns

The best tip for handling a difficult customer is to listen to their concerns actively and empathize with them. Give them your undivided attention and let them know you understand how they feel. Always remain calm and courteous, even if the customer is being difficult.

Remember that keeping a positive attitude is key to resolving any problem. Offer a solution that meets their needs and keep communication open to ensure their satisfaction.

Ryan KopfRyan Kopf

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