No matter how much time you spend on delivering good customer service, sometimes it’s just not enough. There will always be customers who are not satisfied with the kind of support and service you provide. However, the key is to learn how to handle these situations head-on, while serving your customers and protecting your integrity at the same time.

difficult customer
Image from Not Always Right

Here are five difficult customers you may encounter in the future and recommendations on how to effectively deal with them:

Aggressive Alice

Who she is: Alice was enraged when she saw that the deluxe room she booked had one large bed inside instead of two smaller-sized beds. She thought that the room she booked was enough for her and her two kids—her daughter who wants to sleep next to her and her son who prefers to sleep in a separate bed.

Instead of asking what happened with her reservation politely, she raised her voice to the staff and called them incompetent. Alice is not entertaining explanations and all she wants to do is to point out the mistake of the hotel staff.

How to deal: Whether it’s your fault or hers, the lady is obviously not going to listen. First, you have to calm down. Do not match her aggressiveness with your high emotions, because it will only create a bigger problem. Then, wait for her to calm down. When her anger has subsided, take the opportunity to apologize and offer a solution. Do not let hurtful words affect your decisions.

Very Important Patrick (V.I.P)

Who he is: Patrick doesn’t like waiting. The pair of sneakers he was trying on is too small for him so he ordered a bigger size. It was a weekend so naturally, there are many customers seeking assistance from the staff, but Patrick thinks he’s the only customer present. He thinks he is above everyone else and insists he should be prioritized.

How to deal: While customers deserve a prompt response and quick action, you don’t need to single out a particular customer just because he thinks he’s the only one important. Do your best to serve him as quickly as possible so you can also attend to other customers. If possible, refer him to less-busy colleagues who can give him better, timely assistance.

Silent Sophie

Who she is: Sophie is planning on having a hair makeover at a salon. The stylist asks Sophie what hairstyle she wants. Sophie answers “a little trim and blonde hair color,” which is too vague for the stylist.

How do deal: Customers like Sophie expect that once they give an instruction, the person involved can already perform the task on their own. If she is unable or unwilling to supply you with more information on what she wants, ask her questions instead. Ask her what particular shade of blonde she is referring to. Show her magazines or catalogues to arrive at a more specific hair color.

Have her describe the hair style she prefers. Point out how small of a difference “a little trim” can make to her hair. She might be expecting a drastic change in her look so it’s best to manage expectations early.

Complaining Carl

Who he is: Carl ordered Fresh Mushroom Soup but in the middle of the meal, he noticed that it tasted like ready-made mushroom soup straight from the can. Disappointed, he called the attention of the waiter and asked him to explain why the soup is not “fresh” contrary to what was stated in the menu.

Carl also started noticing the little things like how unclear the glass of water is and complained that the lights are too dim for a restaurant. He wants to talk to the manager because he thinks the waiter can’t address all his complaints.

How to deal: It does not matter if you ran out of mushrooms and resorted to serving canned soup instead or if Carl just has an odd palate. Just apologize for what happened, but don’t try to come up with excuses and try to explain your way out. It’s unlikely Carl will listen to your explanations anyway.

Also, give him his demands in one transaction- deliver everything he might need at once. That way, you do not have to deal with him multiple times.

If he is still unsatisfied, seek help from your superior but be sure to offer a solution first. For example, recommend a different soup or offer to subtract the price of the order from his bill.

Know-it-all Nikki

Who she is: Nikki is trying different shades of foundation in a cosmetic store when the beauty consultant approaches her. The woman tries to help Nikki pick the perfect shade for her skin tone when she notices that Nikki was applying foundation that’s too light for her. Nikki insists that it’s her skin and she knows what she is doing.

How to deal: Give Nikki a little ego-boost by dishing out compliments such as “you will look prettier if you wear this shade” or “I hear Drew Barrymore uses this color.” Just make sure you are telling the truth and not just complimenting her blindly. If that does not work, suggest that there are other options you think might work for her.

If she still insists that you’re wrong and she’s right with her choice, let her be. You have done your part to provide her with good beauty advice and it is up to her to decide whether to take it or not.

Have you encountered any of the five types of problematic customers yet? Share with us your experience and how you handled them.