Things You Wish You Could Say to Difficult Customers but You Can’t

6 min read
Dec 2, 2016
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Difficult customers

During Black Friday and Cyber Monday it was easy to encounter difficult customers who wanted to get their deal “right now,” or didn't believe a product was already out of stock. They probably couldn't hold back what they are thinking about you and your company. Threatening to talk to your boss (like he cares) or to stop using your service is also common. Sounds familiar?

I bet.

I know you don’t always want to be polite and patient with these customers and sometimes all you wish for is to let them know what you think about their behaviour. In that moment your head is full of mean responses. Unfortunately, unless you want to change your career path really soon, you know you can’t use them.

To bring you some relief, I decided to write a post about what’s on your mind during difficult situations with customers. I hope this read will put a smile on your face. This also will remind you there are other agents that go through the same challenges when encountering rude customers.

I’m not a mind reader

Have you ever talked to customers who made you feel extremely uncomfortable just because you were asking them questions? You were there to help them, so you asked a bunch of questions to get all the information you need. Yet, they made you feel like you were there to annoyed them. These kind of customers tell you very little and expect you to figure out exactly what they need.

All you want to say is: “Sorry I annoyed you by asking the questions I had to ask to help you!

But all you say instead is: “Sorry, ma'am, it will only take a few minutes,” “I know these procedures take long,” “I’m sorry, I know you’re in a hurry but I need to know these things in order to help you.” All you do is apologize for helping them and making them impatient. But if customers want their cases solved, they should let you help them, right?

You are not always right

Long time ago somebody came up with a phrase “customer is always right” which I think started to be a little overused (by customers of course). Some customers are so sure about their rights, they allow themselves to do a little more than they're supposed to. They think you should do everything possible to meet all their requirements. Basically, you should, but there are requests that are just impossible to do and you know it!

Let’s say you run a pizza restaurant and customers want to get their pizza to go, but you don’t offer it because the food doesn’t taste the same. That’s your right. You don’t have to allow it. Obviously, customers want to order it to go, because that’s what they want, and yeah they’re always right! In this situation all you wish to say is: “Oh you’re a customer? Please tell me how this company should be run and why you know better.

Exactly, they’re wrong and that’s your company’s policies. If you don’t want to bend because you think it will impact customers’ opinion on your product, that’s totally fine. They can use the service or go somewhere else if they don’t share your philosophy and can’t understand why this pizza should be served straight out of the wood fired pizza oven.

Guess what, I’m here to help you

There are customers who sometimes think you sell them a broken product on purpose or that the website shutdown in the middle of Black Friday is your sneaky joke. Like you are there to make their life worse. They forget that when they’re happy, you’re happy, because they keep purchasing your product. Simple as that.

So here they are, yelling at you that they can’t believe your system is down and they’re unable to run their business. All you want is to scream: “Yes, our system is down! Obviously we broke it just for fun and to make your day more difficult!”

When customers think it’s all about them, they’re right. They just forget you’re busy fixing the mistake as soon as possible, so they won’t cancel your service. The thing is, sometimes there are DDOS attacks or tons of other issues, which happen in the SaaS industry, and you have no control over it. As long as you’re working to fix it as soon as possible, your customers should be patient, just like you’re patient with them every other day.

It IS your fault…

The “every complaint is valid” mentality is the rule against assigning blame. But let’s face it, most customers complaints are their own fault. Yet, you can’t tell them that. You need to protect their ego and patiently explain there’s nothing you can do to help them. So, even if someone’s phone fell into the tub or they obviously washed this cashmere sweater in the laundry machine, you have to avoid telling them how it really is.

The truth is, it’s the customers’ fault and the worst part is when you know they’re lying about it, but you can’t call them on it. As if, they have no idea how this sweater shrunk or how their laptop was smashed – they obviously didn’t drop it on the floor. Well, customers are lying sometimes. Moments like these make you want to shout: “I know what you did lady, so just stop lying!”

But there you are, keeping your cool, explaining for the tenth time you can’t help them. Like it’s your fault again.

Your time is not worth more than mine

Some customers seem like they live in their own time zone. They are always late to meetings, to the taxi or they show up 3 minutes before you close the store. Yet they act like everything is fine since they pay. It’s like they believe their time is somehow more valuable than yours.

What do you do about it? You pretend that’s true. You accept the apologies with a smile on your face – if they even offer you one. But those kind of customers make you work longer or earn less (unless they reward you with a tip).

“No, I’m not curious why you are 30 minutes late and didn’t even bother to make a call. I don’t need apologies, I need 30 minutes of my time back” is what rushes through your head.

Just because customers earn more or pay for the service, that doesn’t mean their time is more valuable. Your time matters the same. And only ignorants think otherwise.

Difficult customers who shop late

Customer service heroes

With two and a half years experience in hearing, reading and writing all about customer service, I know that you don’t always want to be polite and patient and sometimes all you wish for is to let customers know what you think about their behaviour. That’s why you probably agree with this:

People working in retail

Wouldn’t it be better than Christmas? I know!

But if you want to continue working in customer service, I bet you’ll stay professional, meaning you’ll stay calm and tell customers what they expect.

Which makes me think: there’s probably a reason for all these hard situations in customer service. Maybe to turn the best reps into real customer service heroes.

With patience as their superpower.

Graphic sources: Giphy, Pinterest

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