Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How to Deal With Customers from Hell

Anyone who has ever run a business or worked in retail has most likely met and dealt with these people at one point or another. Some of them are nice but horribly misinformed some of them downright rude and demanding, and some of them are simply spawns from the deepest parts of hell that you would never ever want to meet. In fact, there are so many instances of horrible customer interactions that there are entire websites devoted to these cringe-worthy anecdotes, telling everything from minor misunderstandings to full-out attempts of people to swindle businesses. For the sake of the lucky few who have never set a foot behind a counter, here are a few customer types you’d hopefully never encounter and what to do if you do. 

The clueless.
”Clueless”, in this case, can be one of two meanings. Either the customer is entirely not aware that he has a problem in the first place, or he is completely befuddled by your product and has no idea how to work it or how to figure out what they are doing wrong. If you are going to be faced with the clueless customers, pray that they would be the nice, polite ones, because lack of knowledge coupled with rudeness is a bad combination to deal with. 

The best thing to do for these types of customers is to explain things as slowly and as simply as possible without sounding as if you are talking down to a customer. It is very easy to offend an insecure customer, and these cases usually end up in epic one-way shouting matches, topped off with the customer leaving (or hanging up) with an indignant huff, never to be heard from again. Remember that cluelessness can be remedied easily if both parties cooperate. 


The faultless.
This next one is an even bigger displeasure to work with. Usually angry, never at fault, and perfectly justified in everything they do. For the sake of your sanity as a business owner or employee, it is important to mention that you do have the option to simply let go of these customers and never serve them. Some customers are just not worth the effort and can, in the long run, be hugely detrimental to the state of your business. Time and energy is important in the business world, and to devote huge chunks of these just to please self-entitled people is definitely not worth it.

You can, of course, give these people a second chance by simply calling them out on their behaviour. Tell them that you would not stand for any shouting, profanity, or irrationality, but you are perfectly willing to help them if they behave nicely. Sometimes, this method does wonders to calm down a raging customer, but if it doesn’t, dump the customer A.S.A.P.

The penniless.
There’s usually nothing wrong with this type of customer; it’s just you would be hard-pressed to provide services within the limited budget he wants to work with. Of course, some people take it to the next level by ceaselessly asking for freebies, discounts, and special services, which you can five up freely to an extent. The next level after that would be the paranoid customer who would always find a way to accuse you of ripping them off, every excuse from overcharging, to short-changing, and even to accusing you of fraudulent charges.

The best defense to this would be clear cut rates, neat and orderly records, and an impressive patience. Expect to break every transaction down to the very last cent, and make it a point not to give customers the opportunity to sneak in a baseless accusation. Some people really do not have any extra money to spend, so it is not surprising that they are incredibly careful with their finances. You just have to make sure they get their money’s worth. 


The bottom line.
There are many more different types of customers, ranging from the good to the bad, and each situation would warrant a different way to interact and deal with these people. The most golden advice would simply be to keep calm and carry on, and to know the limits you should go to for a customer. You are running a business at the end of it all, and while the customer is always right, that doesn’t mean you have to go bankrupt for it.

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