All customers, even the angry ones, are relatively easy to deal with — most of the time. As long as you show a genuine interest in helping them, the majority of people you do business with won’t waste their time making your life frustrating just for the fun of it.
But there is a small subset of customers who seem to make a hobby out of giving customer service representatives grief. They don’t want their problem solved as much as they simply relish the power imbalance that comes from the fact that you and your employees work so hard to please them (because you have to).
Fortunately, even these customers can be handled professionally if you anticipate them. Here are three of the most common types of painful customers and what you should do when you encounter them in the wild:
These customers want the moon and they want it for cheap. They insist that your competitors can deliver on their demands, when in reality no one can possibly give them what they want. Then they express exasperation than you aren’t willing to bankrupt your business in order to help them.
How to handle: Say that you truly wish you could give them what they want, but you simply don’t have the ability to give it to them. It also helps if you give these customers an easy way to return your product or cancel their service. For example, Instant Checkmate will help customers cancel memberships if they contact the company through its social media channels like Facebook.
Why pay a psychologist $150 an hour to listen to you vent when you can talk the ear off of a customer service rep for free? That seems to be the philosophy of people who deal with life’s problems by complaining to random businesses. They may have had a personal problem recently and deal with it by blowing a small matter way out of proportion.
How to handle: Be empathetic and always redirect the customer to the business at hand. When you tell them what you’re doing to help them, it will remind them why they called or emailed in the first place.
Some people have a rare gift of gab, able to speak about what angers them with precise and eloquent language. Others, however, may resort to a more limited and more profane set of words whenever they try to communicate how ticked off they are. The "Colorful Language User" will let expletives fly with the ease and force of a sanitation truck expelling its contents. Maybe they’re trying to get a rise out of you. Maybe this is just how they talk when they’re angry. But in any case they make it difficult to pretend that they aren’t being pointlessly crass to you.
How to handle: Don’t meet their foul language with bad language of your own. Note that it sounds like they are very upset. If you are communicating on the phone, ask if you could communicate through a different medium such as email.
Logan Strain is a writer for Instant Checkmate, one of the world's largest people search engines. He specializes in writing about brand strategy, online reputation management, and social media marketing.
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