Cartoon hand holding sign that reads how to keep the customer

Handling Difficult Customer Service Situations

Cartoon hand holding sign that reads how to keep the customerHandling Difficult Customer Service Situations

Through the day to day interactions of your business there are many scenarios that can arise in relation to customer service. You will likely find yourself in difficult situation at some point and although a customer may be upset, the main thing they will remember is how you handle yourself.

If you find yourself in one of the following situations know what to do….

When You Are in The Wrong

While at all costs you will want to avoid this situation, you may have been wrong on your end. Apologize, Explain and Follow Up. It is very important that you do not forget to apologize. Simply admitting to a mistake before you begin diagnosing the problem has proven effects in giving a more positive outlook on the company. You can then move into fixing the problem and of course following up with the customers to ensure that they are satisfied and reminded how they can get help in the future if they have any concerns.

When You Don’t Know

You may not have the answer to every question and this is just a fact of life. Your customer doesn’t require you to know everything, but they do expect you to do what you can to find an answer. Don’t put off or avoid a customer for longer than your expected response time just so you don’t have to admit to not knowing. A quick response with an “I will look into this matter and get back to you by the end of today.” is a great start. The customer knows you are looking into it and when they can expect an answer from you. They haven’t been left guessing and know that the outcome will be an answer to the question that they had.

“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” -Damon Richards

When You Have To Say No

As much as we always try to give the customer the benefit of the doubt there are situations when you have to say no and that the customer may not be right. Perhaps it is a security issue, a rule that cannot be bent, a product or service that you don’t have. What you can do is counter a no with a positive. “No sorry, we cannot give you this information without proper identification. Here at xyz company, your security is our top priority and we would never give out personal information without proper measurements.”

As frustrated as they might be when they first arrive, the customer knows that you genuinely care about them.

When a Customer Is Angry

When an angry customer arrives or phones fixing the situation may only take 5 minutes, but dealing with the emotions of the customer is one of the most important steps.  For example, if a customer comes in for an exchange because of a default in their new television, the most frustration for them lies in having to pack up their item, drive to the store, wait in line etc. and they don’t even get to enjoy it yet. By the time they have gone through these steps they are anything but happy.  However, they are most unhappy with the product and this is where you can pick up the slack with proper customer service. Empathy goes a long way. A simple statement showing your understanding such as “I can see why you would be upset.” can really make the customer feel more understood. If you address their concerns, apologize for the inconvenience, thank them for taking the time to return to the store and sympathizing with their situation you can save the business. Find the fastest solution to get their product either fixed or replaced and offer them a reason to come back. Maybe an incentive purchase, gift card etc. Spending a little extra to save a customer and future referrals are certainly worth the investment.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates

We can’t predict every situation and there will be scenarios that test your customer service skills. However, with proper preparation and specific policies in place, the customer service team can be well equipped to handle those difficult customer service situations that arise.

Kent Boehm
Business & Leadership Coach
403.690.8363 or