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Communicating With Five Types Of Difficult Customers

Working in customer service can be a trial-by-fire. Today’s consumers expect top notch service from every brand they encounter. Whether you’re building your client base as a business owner or work a customer-facing role in any industry, customer service is one of your most vital tasks.

You can improve almost every customer relationship when you focus on communication skills. Learn how to communicate with five common types of disappointed customers. These best practices will help you:

  • Set clear expectations
  • Empathize with your clients
  • Defuse unpleasant situations
  • Transform a negative experience into a positive takeaway
  • Know when it’s time to end the relationship

The Scope Creeper

Scope creep occurs when clients try to add more services to their project after you’ve already agreed on the work. Think about customers who ask for a large drink after paying for a medium, or want to see one more logo variant than was specified in your contract. 

A scope creeper may not think of themselves as dissatisfied. After all, they love your work and want to see more of it! However, these clients can still be challenging to work with because they’re unpredictable.

Communicating With A Scope Creeper

You can avoid scope creep by clarifying expectations from the beginning of the relationship. Be clear about what your services entail, as well as how clients can add to their experience. Offer this information beginning at the top of your marketing funnel to help customers know what to expect at every step.

The Disappointed Customer

Your disappointed customer feels let down by their experience. They had high expectations for your brand promise, but your company didn’t deliver. Disappointed customers may feel betrayed, cheated, tricked, and other negative emotions.

Disappointed customers may have experienced a defective product, a bad interaction with your staff, or even a confrontation with other customers. In other cases, you may have delivered your usual high level of service to a customer that expected something you don’t offer. In either case, you must help the customer feel heard.

Communicating With A Disappointed Customer

Be empathetic when helping customers navigate their disappointment. Use active listening and absorb what they’re telling you, instead of trying to immediately focus on your next steps. Sometimes, the simple experience of talking to a person who cares will help a customer over their disappointment. Finally, do everything you can to solve the customer’s problem. Friendly, helpful customer service can transform a disappointed customer into a satisfied repeat client.

The Bargain Hunter

Bargain-hunting customers expect the best value for their time and money. There’s nothing wrong with maintaining an efficient budget, but these customers can need extra help to feel confident in their choices. They’re familiar with the current state of the market, including your competition’s products, pricing, and promotions.

Communicating With A Bargain Hunter

Communicate your offerings clearly to show your value to bargain customers. Help them understand the full scope of what your brand offers. If you accept competitor’s coupons or price-match items, highlight these promotions to show bargain hunters they’re getting a great deal. If your prices are non-negotiable, emphasize the perks and features that make your services worth the investment.

The Noncommittal Customer

From time to time, you’ll find customers who can’t make up their minds. These customers have almost converted, but some hesitation or anxiety prevents them from making the final decision.This customer might want to buy a sweater from your boutique, but is the green better, or the blue? You might also see these customers wavering over two different entrees, or unable to decide which ad campaign is their favorite.

Communicating With A Noncommittal Customer

Help undecided customers tackle their fears to go ahead with your product. Focus on positive aspects to help them decide. Maybe your green sweater brings out the color of their eyes, or one ad campaign performed better in test groups with their target demographic. When you can reassure customers that they’re making a wise decision, they’ll feel confident to commit.

The Aggressive Customer

Targeted communication can convert most difficult clients into happy customers, but occasionally, you’ll work with customers who show a repeated pattern of aggression. Don’t confuse a terse response from a busy client with true aggression. When clients are repeatedly abusive or threatening towards your staff or other customers, work to defuse the situation so you don’t need to end the relationship.

Communicating With An Aggressive Customer

Start by treating your aggressive customer as you would any other unhappy client. Aim to understand their problem, apologize for their bad experience, and take action to solve their problem. Many people calm down on their own once they feel heard and know their needs are being met. Remember that everyone has a bad day from time to time. Aggressive customers may even apologize for their actions once they’ve had a chance to decompress.

In the rare situation that a customer shows a history of abusive behavior, take a hard look at the entire situation. Clients who make threats against your staff or other customers can pose serious safety threats. Whether asking an unruly bar patron to leave for the night or informing a client that you won’t be renewing their contract, you can choose to stop doing business with abusive customers as a last resort.


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