4 Types of Difficult Customers—Helpful Service Tips

Retailers understand that dealing with difficult customers can be challenging. Even for the most patient and well-trained employees, there are times when that adage about the customer always being right is quickly put to the test. Some customers are almost impossible to satisfy no matter what a salesperson does to provide extraordinary service. However, there are several techniques employees can use to resolve issues when dealing with different types of customers.

The Chronic Complainer
Everyone complains now and then. However, some people complain endlessly and wear you out. Constructive complaints from customers can be a good thing when they prompt retailers to improve their business. Yet, chronic complainers give store employees the blues since they gripe about everything in sight—including merchandise, prices, signs, lighting, and more. It’s hard to satisfy a chronic complainer because they have unrealistic standards. How to handle this customer type:

  • Accept that you are never going to satisfy a chronic complainer
  • Give the person your attention and listen to what they are saying
  • Limit the amount of time you invest in helping the person since nothing is good enough
  • Do the best you can and avoid making excuses for every complaint
  • Be polite, remain calm and smile
  • Fix what you can since honest feedback is always welcomed

The Demanding Bully
A bully’s personality doesn’t change just because they are among strangers in a public place. They remain angry, aggressive, rude, and abusive. Unfortunately, the person happens to be in your store expecting you to solve their problem. Since a bully doesn’t mind being the center of negative attention, you should always remain calm and apologize for the problem. Be polite and assist in resolving the situation. If the customer is visibly upset or loud, try to pinpoint why the person is so frustrated. Although the person may make insulting comments, stay focused and avoid raising your voice. Eventually, the customer will calm down. Your explanations may not matter to a bully, but a second apology may impact their behavior.

The Confused Customer
While some customers prefer to get in and out of stores quickly, confused customers want to linger forever and seem to ask hundreds of questions without buying anything. The person wants to be assured that they are making the right decision and getting the best deal. You will never know what is preventing them from purchasing unless you peel away every objection like layers of an onion. This type of customer requires the salesperson to set boundaries on their time, or the customer can exhaust their enthusiasm and energy.

  • Figure out their biggest fears or concerns—its price, features, colors, and quality.
  • Toss in something extra to help overcome indecisiveness
  • Create a sense of urgency—only a few in stock, prices may increase soon

The “I Know Everything” Customer
Some customers know everything and won’t listen to anything. When they come to your store, they want to educate you about the products you sell, operating your business, and how to deliver the best service. The person talks nonstop and believes they are always right even when they are wrong. It will be hard to decipher what this customer wants. The individual can also be overbearing and rude and show little regard for your opinion or feelings. Somewhere along the line, you must decide if the person came in to make a purchase or lecture to a captive audience forced to listen. What you can do to handle the situation:

  • Stroke their ego by offering sincere compliments about their product knowledge
  • Give them plenty of attention for a reasonable amount of time
  • Make your points by providing helpful facts and information
  • Be polite to enable the person to leave feeling good about the visit

Retailers and employees need to know techniques that can help guide their interactions with demanding customers. The goal is always to deliver exceptional service, even in less than optimum circumstances. When you can identify the customer type, it’s easier to feel confident that you can resolve problems in a way that can convert difficult customers into loyal customers who speak highly of your business to their family and friends.

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