While difficult customers can be a nightmare for customer service representatives, being able to service these customers effectively is vital to any business’s success.
Whether you outsource customer service or maintain an in-house team, providing outstanding customer support can make all the difference in helping businesses get ahead of the competition. In fact, 51% of customers stop patronizing a company after just one negative experience. Needless to say, handling irate customers the right way is crucial.
The keys to keeping difficult customers loyal to your brand are:
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Put your customer service reps on the right path by familiarizing them with some of the archetypes of challenging customers they might encounter. Additionally, they’ll need to learn the best customer service practices to win them over.
The Antagonist is the type of customer who will not hesitate to voice their complaints and use highly aggressive language to lash out. They will not take any form of excuse, especially if they know that the company is in the wrong.
How Best To Respond: It is essential to avoid becoming confrontational with the Antagonist, as matching their aggressive behavior will only exacerbate the situation. A firm, polite tone is advisable. Keep your response pleasant without yielding to their anger.
Thank the customer for sharing their feedback and allow them to vent and further expound on their opinion. Afterward, acknowledge the problem and offer them reassurance that it is being dealt with. Make sure to provide details on the steps being taken to resolve the issue and when they can expect to see results.
The Fact-Checker has read all the materials available on a given product or service. They reach out to customer support to clarify or confirm what they already know.
How Best To Respond: The Fact-Checker doesn’t like canned answers and won’t take kindly to being told what they already know. Instead, acknowledge the problem they have brought up and offer them a sincere apology.
With this type of customer, you need to show not only that your company wants to validate their experience, but also that you give credit to their efforts to inform themselves. Use supporting questions and clarifying statements as much as possible to shift from the problem to the solution. If possible, provide them with information that is not readily available to help de-escalate a situation and turn it into a learning opportunity for them.
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The Ticker takes their title from the ticking of a clock. These customers value their time and will begin to get agitated the longer their complaints remain unaddressed. They will demand a solution for their problems in a matter of hours or minutes, and will not stand for anything longer.
How Best To Respond: If you cannot provide a solution immediately, it is crucial to give the Ticker alternatives or workarounds that can alleviate at least part of the problem.
Additionally, consider escalating their complaint to someone more knowledgeable. When transferring the Ticker over, make sure to clearly explain that this step is to connect them to a specialist who can better address their concern. Be sure to relay the customer’s problem when turning over thoroughly; do not leave out any detail. Proper turnover ensures that the customer will not have to repeat their concerns to another rep which may aggravate them further.
You may also take a more active stance and commit to providing updates and communication every step of the way to show that you’re committed to the problem. Doing this should be balanced by setting the Ticker’s expectations to a workable timeline and delivering results as promised.
The Opportunist will use a problem or concern as a reason to reach out to you but will not actually want a fix—instead, they will be fishing for an opening to ask for freebies. Nothing else will satisfy them, and they may even use antagonistic behavior towards you as further leverage against your brand.
How Best To Respond: The Opportunist is actively looking for a freebie, and accepting their demands is nothing short of letting them take advantage of you. The best response to this is to maintain your composure and answer in a calm, objective manner.
This level of professional detachment backed up with accurate, quantified data and facts works to deter the Opportunist from asking for more than a solution. This also prevents them from badgering you with constant and repetitive complaints.
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For the Nitpicker, no solution is ever good enough. Expect them to contact you repeatedly about the issues they are encountering. They are very frustrated and feel like their problems are not being fully resolved.
How Best To Respond: It can be a headache to deal with Nitpickers, especially considering how similar their approach may seem to the Opportunist. However, the difference is that while the latter may be looking for a handout, the former will be grateful for a solution that works.
It is crucial to let this type of customer know that you are sympathetic to their feelings and are putting in the effort to solve their problems. Actively taking note of the issues they are facing can go a long way in improving overall customer experience.
The Minimizer can be a challenge to deal with because, unlike the Antagonist, they are worried that their problem may cause an inconvenience to you or that their concerns will fall on deaf ears. This can result in a lack of complaints or the use of minimizing language to downplay their issue.
How Best To Respond: When the Minimizer finally reaches out to you, they may already have been struggling with the issue for a long time. With a sympathetic tone, you need to inquire deeper to reach the real root of their problem.
You can do this best by checking in with them via a customer satisfaction survey. Once the dialogue has been started, you can begin actively resolving any of their complaints. Sometimes, an unhappy customer can leave without a word of feedback, so it is critical to take advantage of this opportunity to set things straight.
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Excellent customer service is never a one-size-fits-all solution. Genuinely understanding the way your customers work will help you reach a solution that satisfies their needs and keeps them loyal to your brand. Approaching each difficult customer with sincere respect and an open mind will yield better results.
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