If you are familiar with my work at all, you know that I talk a lot about providing outstanding service to your customers and building customer loyalty. But it can be a big challenge for any business to provide that high level of customer service when they are faced with the dreaded “difficult customer”. You know the one- they try to return products that you don’t even sell at your store, call at all hours of the night, and rant at the top of their lungs about an issue that is really their own fault. So, here are a few easy ways to help you deal with these “difficult” customers:

(1) Say that You’re Sorry
When a customer is really upset, often times, they are just looking for someone to listen to them and acknowledge their issue. Resist the natural urge to become defensive. Listen to their complaint without interrupting and apologize for the trouble that they are experiencing (real or perceived aside). Speak to them in a calm, normal tone and fight the temptation to yell back, even if they are way out of line. Sometimes, by just listening, apologizing and taking responsibility, you can resolve the situation and put the customer at ease.

(2) What Do You Want from Me?
And then, there are times that an “I’m sorry” just won’t cut it. Whether the customer has a bona fide cause for complaint or can’t be put at ease for whatever reason, go above and beyond to turn the situation around. View this as your chance to turn a negative into a positive. This can often be as simple as asking a direct question like “What can we do for you to resolve the situation?” and then, give them what they have asked for. The customer’s solution is often easier than you would expect and this not only can turn an unhappy customer into a raving fan, but can save you a lot of time and headaches too!

(3) Make Them Pay (Literally!)
When you first meet a potential client or customer, there is a desire to ignore the “difficult customer” red flags and warning signs because you want their business. So, fast forward a few weeks to when you’ve been getting emails and calls at all hours of the night, revisions to work that they’ve already signed off on and temper tantrums for, well, just about any reason under the sun. You start to get frustrated that this “difficult” customer is taking up so much more of your valuable time than your other clients. The solution is simple; charge them more! You will be surprised at how much less “difficult” a customer seems when you are being adequately compensated for the extra time and energy that particular person requires.

(4) Do What the Donald Does
There will always be those few individuals that, for whatever reason, are just never satisfied. So, when apologizing, offering various solutions and up-charging doesn’t work, act like Donald Trump and say “You’re fired!” It may seem extreme, but these extreme cases require extreme action. It is just simply not worth your time, energy and resources to repeatedly try to resolve issues for someone that doesn’t want a resolution. And if you want to take really extreme action, refer them to a competitor!

These are just a few easy ways to deal with difficult customers. What other tips do you have? Please share them below.

Thanks to Angel Tuccy of Experience Pros, Danny Wong of BL Dress Shirts, Maria Marsala of Elevating Your Business, Stacy
Robin of
The Degania Group, and Rodger Roeser of The Eisen Agency for the inspiration behind some of these ideas.