Close
 

Five proven tips for dealing with difficult customers

  • Opinion
  • December 17, 2015
  • Francesca Nicasio
Five proven tips for dealing with difficult customers

Stress levels can run pretty high this time of year, so you’re more likely to experience difficult customers. To help you navigate these occurrences, below are a few tips on dealing with not-so-pleasant shoppers.

Keep calm and breathe

It may sound simplistic, but you’d be surprised at what a few deep breaths can do. Take a few seconds to breathe and put yourself in the right mindset before dealing with the customer. Remind yourself that the shopper isn’t necessarily mad at you, but rather, they’re miffed about the situation.

Having the right mental attitude will help prevent your buttons from getting pushed and enable you to respond in a calm and professional manner.

Listen to the customer

People who are upset need to be heard, so let your customers talk and vent, and don’t interrupt them.

At this stage, it’s important to engage in active listening, which is the practice of consciously assimilating what the other party has to say, instead of just standing silently in front of them.

Doing so will help make a good impression and it’ll allow you to really take in what the customer is saying, so you can (if possible) resolve their issue efficiently.

Active listening also entails that you listen with your whole body. This means using positive body language such as having an open stance and nodding along to show the other person that you’re listening. (More on this below.)

Be mindful of your verbal and non-verbal language

The things you say—and don’t say—can greatly affect the outcome of any customer interaction. Signs of boredom, impatience, or aggression will only escalate the situation so be very mindful of your words and the body language you project.

Here are a few tips to help you do just that:

VERBAL

Use “phrases of courtesy.” According to Renée Evenson, author of Powerful Phrases for Effective Customer Service, “Customers appreciate being treated courteously, so when you interject words and phrases of courtesy appropriately throughout your conversations, you show your customers how you respect them.”

That demonstration of respect and courteousness goes a long way, especially when you’re in a difficult customer situation.

Evenson provides a handy list of phrases of courtesy that you can refer to. Check out the phrases below and make it a point to incorporate them in your customer service vocabulary:

  • “I apologize. I didn’t hear/understand what you said,” or “I’m sorry, I need to pass by.”
  • “Will you?” rather than “You will.”
  • “Yes,” rather than “Yeah.”
  • “I’ll check and be right back.”
  • “Will you hold for a moment while I check on that?”
  • “Thanks for waiting.”
  • “Mr./Mrs./Ms. _____.” (Address by first name only if you know that’s appropriate)
  • To see the full list and to learn about how to incorporate phrases of courtesy into your customer service strategy, check out the book here.

NON-VERBAL

Your body language should show customers that you’re open to what they have to say, so be mindful of the non-verbal cues that you give off.

Make eye contact (but don’t stare), nod along to what the customer is saying, and maintain an open stance to demonstrate that you’re listening to them. Avoid defensive or hostile gestures such as closed fists or folded arms as they could only aggravate the customer.

For your reference, here’s a table you can refer to when it comes to the dos and don’ts of body language in retail:

Act quickly

If you can resolve the customer’s problem immediately, then by all means do so. This has several benefits:

For one, being able to quickly address a customer’s concerns may just turn their negative experience into a positive one. If you can get on top of things and satisfy the shopper, they might just end up as a loyal customer who buys from you regularly and tells their friends.

Resolving a customer issue ASAP also prevents a situation from escalating. This is especially true if someone is complaining loudly inside your store.

As Nicole Reyhle wrote in her Forbes column, “when a customer is creating a scene in front of other customers, you should aim to resolve it as fast and quietly as possible… One of the main reasons for this is that any customer who becomes upset and loud about it in your business is likely the same type of person to talk about this experience with friends, family and other potential customers.”

Make a judgment call: Will you tolerate someone who’s being downright obnoxious or unfair?

If the situation reaches a point where the customer crosses the line and becomes downright rude and unfair, you’ll need make a judgment call on giving them what they wants versus “firing” them.

Yes, choosing the latter would mean that they’ll never shop with you again, but keeping a problematic customer can be just as bad.

As customer service and speaker Shep Hyken puts it, “if the customer crosses the line, it may be time to fire the customer, politely sending them on their way to the competition. A bad customer can hurt morale and make the working environment uncomfortable. Just as bad, a manager that won’t stand up to the customer and support his/her employees can have negative impact as well.”

Bottom line

Dealing with difficult customers can be… well, difficult, but it comes with the territory of running a retail store. We hope the tips above gave you some ideas on how to act the next time a not-so-pleasant customer comes your way.

​ ​

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

 

H&M's 2019 designer collab will be with Giambattista Valli

  • News
  • May 24, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
H&M's 2019 designer collab will be with Giambattista Valli

H&M's designer collaborations are met with global consumer excitement. Last year, Moschino was the chosen brand, and for 2019, it's Paris-based Giambattista Valli.

Read more
 
 

Karen Walker brings back its preloved Dove Hospice pop-up

  • News
  • May 24, 2019
  • The Register team
Karen Walker brings back its preloved Dove Hospice pop-up

After a successful debut last year, Karen Walker is bringing back its Dove Hospice pop-up at the Newmarket 'Playpark' store. It will once again sell vintage hand-knitted items to fundraise for the hospice charity.

Read more
 
 

Countdown's Own wins April's Ad Impact award

  • News
  • May 23, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Countdown's Own wins April's Ad Impact award

With an April full of public holidays and potential long weekends, the month was a big and busy month for advertising. But Countdown's own-brand campaign surpassed the competition to be named the Colmar Brunton Ad Impact Award winner for April.

Read more
 

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

 
topics
Regional rollercoaster
What does retail look like in 2019 for ...
Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Sisterhood
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...
 

Kiwi fashion label Maggie Marilyn launches new website

  • News
  • May 23, 2019
  • The Register team
Kiwi fashion label Maggie Marilyn launches new website

The new website launched by New Zealand fashion label Maggie Marilyn prioritises transparency and sustainability.

Read more
 
 

Sharesies CEO Brooke Roberts talks what it takes to become a B Corp certified company

  • News
  • May 23, 2019
  • Courtney Devereux
Sharesies CEO Brooke Roberts talks what it takes to become a B Corp certified company

There’s a movement afoot globally to create more companies that balance purpose with profit and view business as a force for good. Called Certified B Corporations, companies that meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability can become certified. As of April, Sharesies investment platform was the first financial company nationally to qualify for the B Corp certification, joining just 22 other New Zealand B Corp certified businesses. CEO Brooke Roberts talks us through the process, and the benefits for businesses in becoming certified.

Read more
 

The benefits of rewarding non-transactional activities

  • Opinion
  • May 23, 2019
  • Ros Netto
The benefits of rewarding non-transactional activities

Product and price is all very well, but retailers are increasingly seeking to avoid discounting by incentivising non-transactional behaviours instead. Ros Netto, consultant at Truth Customer Academy, shares some advice.

Read more
 
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise
The Register

editor@theregister.co.nz

Content marketing/advertising? Email anita.hayhoe@icg.co.nz or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit

}