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No matter the industry you are in, most roles involve interacting with customers. When dealing with any customer, it’s important to have excellent customer service skills, especially when dealing with difficult or angry customers.

There are simple yet effective tips you can keep in mind when dealing with challenging customers that can help you handle the situation professionally.

We will outline some different types of difficult customers you may face and how you can handle each situation and reach the desired outcome for all parties involved. But first, we need to understand why it’s important to successfully handle situations with disgruntled customers.


Keep calm when dealing with disgruntled customers.


The Importance of Effectively dealing with Difficult Customers

Effectively dealing with difficult customers is important in any business because customer service excellence will help you to retain customers. You can turn a negative situation into a positive, as well as increasing the likelihood of the customer becoming an advocate for your brand because of how well the situation was handled. The once difficult customer can walk away feeling impressed with their customer experience, rather than walking away and telling others of their negative experience.

Now we have established why customer service excellence is so important, here are some different kinds of difficult customers and how you can effectively manage their expectations and meet their needs.



1. Disgruntled Customers

A disgruntled customer is typically very hard to handle. A good first step is to listen to them, and apologise, whether you are in the wrong or not. An apology is a simple gesture that can calm a customer down enough that you can begin to have a more constructive conversation.

The disgruntled customer will usually raise their voice. It is best to keep your normal tone or even soften your voice. Always remain calm and never share their frustration.


Some examples of what you can do when you encounter an angry or disgruntled customer:

  • Repeat back to them the reason why they are angry. This can help them to feel that you are listening to their concerns
  • Let them know that you want to help
  • Thank them for bringing the issue to your attention
  • Let them know that you understand how they are feeling


2. Hesitant or Uncertain Customers

An uncertain or hesitant customer will help you to practice patience. They may take a long time to make a decision and will usually ask a lot of questions. You can assist them by establishing their specific areas of concern about their purchase. To reassure them, remember to speak about the product or service with confidence and share as much information with them as possible.

  • Ask probing questions to uncover their needs
  • Offer suggestions
  • Highlight the features, benefits and value the product will give the customer


A challenging customer is usually demanding. They might ask you to do something that you are not able to help them with.


3. Challenging Customers

A challenging customer is usually demanding. They might ask you to do something that you are not able to help them with. You can reassure them that you will do what you can to meet their desires and try to compromise with them.

Things you could say to a demanding customer:

  • “I hear your concerns and will do my best to assist you.”
  • “We have a few different options that might suit your needs. Would you like me to explain them to you?”

Things you should avoid saying to a demanding customer:

  • “No, we can’t do that.”
  • “Calm down.”
  • “It’s not my fault.”
  • “That’s not my job.”

The key is to remain patient, respectful, and attentive to their needs. Offering solutions, acknowledging their concerns and showing a willingness to help will go a long way with a challenging customer.


4. Critical Customers

A critical customer will typically find faults in your business’s products or services. They will be quick to point out their frustrations.

To manage a critical customer:

  • Listen and understand their point of view
  • Ask Clarifying Questions
  • Remain calm and professional
  • Show appreciation for their feedback
  • Don’t take it personally

If you truly listen to what is being said, these customers can actually offer great feedback through their honesty.

Some examples of things you can say to a critical customer:

  • “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I understand that you had a negative experience, and I apologise for any inconvenience.”
  • “Let’s work together to find a solution that meets your expectations. What would you consider a fair resolution?”

Examples of what not to say to a critical customer:

  • “I can’t do anything about it.”
  • “It’s company policy, and we can’t change it.”
  • “We’ve never had this problem before.”


Dealing with Difficult Customers

In the world of customer service, coming across the occasional difficult customer is inevitable. No two customer service interactions are the same, however, it is always important to maintain customer service excellence. The following are approaches you can utilise when dealing with a difficult customer:

  1. Always maintain professionalism
  2. Stay calm and composed
  3. Maintain a soft tone
  4. Genuinely listen to the customer
  5. Let them speak, halt your response
  6. Understand their point of view
  7. Determine their needs
  8. Seek resolution


Using these tips and techniques can help you to handle any kind of customer service situation with confidence, and ultimately reach a resolution for your customer.


The importance of customer satisfaction and providing an excellent customer experience.

If you would like to know more about how SPARKLE’s Customer Service Excellence Training can benefit your customer service team and your business, contact us today.
Call 1300 611 288, or Email info@sparkletraining.com.au


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