Successful retailers don’t just sell products. Today, quality customer service may be what differentiates a company from its rivals. Retailers with poor customer service risk losing revenues, profits and even going out of business.

One of the most common questions asked in customer service training is “How can I deal with a difficult customer?”. This can prove a real day to day challenge for people in customer-facing roles. Difficult customers include those who are angry, impatient, intimidating, over-talkative, demanding or indecisive.

Most people who are employed in customer service roles will be “people” people – understanding people who have an empathy for their customers. However, the downside of this is that “people” people don’t really like conflict or confrontation, and when it occurs, it takes them outside their comfort zone. By building in the subject of handling difficult customers into a customer service training course, it helps the delegates have confidence in this situation.

In a good customer service training course, you should be given the opportunity to explore:

* What, for you, constitutes a difficult customer?

* Why is that customer being difficult?

* What can you do to close the gap between yourself and the customer?

Remember, you cannot control anyone else’s behaviour. You only have control over your own actions. None the less, you can influence how customers respond to you to some degree by using these tops tips:

Get Control of Yourself: Never argue with a customer – full stop! If you let a customer push your buttons, you have lost control of the situation. Remember, you can lose a good customer if you show boredom, irritation or displeasure.

Let the Customer Vent: Tune in to the customer; don’t look for the nearest exit. The customer wants to be listened to, acknowledged and understood. Maintain eye contact. Show your attentiveness by standing or sitting up straight; lolling or slouching makes you seem inattentive and disinterested. Uncross your arms — this indicates you are listening with an open mind. Let the person talk, and pay close attention. Repeat or paraphrase some of what you hear.

Show the Customer You Care: Show concern for the customer’s feelings. Maintain a concerned, sincere and interested facial expression. Your voice, as well as your body language and expression, communicates your attitude. People respond more to how you say something than what you say. When a customer tries to intimidate you, stay calm and ask, “What can we do to help?” This kind of question can also help you get away faster from a chatty, finicky or confused customer who monopolizes your time.

Don’t Blame the Customer or the Company: When explaining your store’s policy or trying to clarify what went wrong, use either the indirect approach (“There are a few questions before I can give you a refund.”) or “I” statements (“I need additional information.”) as much as possible. Don’t acknowledge that you or your company is to blame. That could lead to lawsuits.

Try to Solve the Problem, or Get Someone Who Can: Even if solving the customer’s problem isn’t among your job duties, never say this to the customer. Get all the facts you can, and then tell the customer how you can help.

Before you offer solutions, ask the customer how he would like the problem to be resolved. Offer choices whenever possible. (“Would you prefer to speak to the manager, or wait until I can finish ringing up these customers’ purchases so I can give you more time?”)

Finally, don’t make promises you can’t keep. Get help from someone who knows.

If your staff need to deal with difficult, aggressive or intimidating customers then our Dealing with Difficult Customers and Situations Course will develop their skills to handle difficult customers effecively to achieve a positive outcome.