The Difficult Type of Customer: How to Satisfy Their Needs

9 min read
Nov 2, 2023
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No matter how extraordinary a service you provide, you will meet difficult customers somewhere along the way. We know something about it. Difficult customers are as inevitable. But as a customer service representative, you know that dealing with angry and difficult customers can be a challenging experience

While it's tempting to react defensively or dismissively, handling these situations with care and empathy is crucial to maintain a positive customer experience.

In this article, we'll touch on several types of difficult customers and discuss why it's important to handle angry and difficult customers in a specific way.

The difficult type of customer

There are two ways to think about difficult customers.

One is that the customer is always wrong and that the customer is, in fact, the problem.

This doesn't leave a good first impression and doesn't encourage them down the sales funnel closer to making a purchase.

The second approach is to spend some extra time with every difficult customer. The best form of customer service will see you listening to your unhappy website visitor, and then carefully explaining your product or service and how you do business. However, at the same time, you’re not scared to consider the possibility of them being actually right.

In both approaches, you’ll need to learn something about handling difficult customers and the specific need of unhappy customers in your customer base.

You can achieve that by understanding their personality types and way of thinking better.

Note: The Impact of Negative Customer Experiences

Negative customer experiences can have a significant impact on a business.

In the digital age, customers have many platforms to express their dissatisfaction, such as social media, review websites, and online chats.

If these negative experiences go unaddressed, they can damage a business's reputation and deter potential customers from engaging with the company.

A study by Salesforce found that 62% of customers say they share their bad experiences with others. On the other hand, quality customer support that resolves customer complaints can have a positive impact on a business's reputation and lead to customer loyalty.

Ways to identify your customer type

Identifying the type of 'difficult' your customer is, is important in order to ensure that the problem gets solved and you leave your customers happy. These questions can help you segment different types of customers, identify your customer needs and add value to your customers throughout their journey.

Ask qualifying questions

When chatting with every customer online, ask them questions to better understand their needs and preferences. Make sure you're asking about their goals, challenges, and pain points to identify which customer type they belong to. For example, they might be price-sensitive customers if they're looking for a budget-friendly product.

Analyze their language and tone

Analyzing the language and tone of your customers can provide valuable insights into their personality, mood, and preferences. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason, and good customer service is based on listening more than talking. Pay attention to the words they use, their sentence structure, and their tone to identify their customer type. For example, if they're using technical jargon, they might be tech-savvy customers.

Look at their behavior on your website

Monitoring your customers' behavior on your website can help you understand their preferences and needs. Analyze their browsing history, search queries, and purchase history to identify their customer type. For example, if they've been browsing your luxury products, they might be high-end customers.

Use data and analytics

Using data and analytics can help you identify patterns in your customers' behavior and preferences. Analyze their demographics, location, and purchase history to create customer profiles and identify their customer type. For example, if most of your customers are millennials, you might be targeting a younger audience.

Connect with customers

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I want it now: the impulse customer

An impulsive customer is the kind of customer who doesn’t care about the fact that something is not available or can’t be done at the moment. They can’t imagine you don’t have some features or services. They can’t believe you’re closed at 6 pm and you don’t offer any additional contact after this hour. Also, they can’t show it in any other way than by resorting to anger. This type of customer wants to use phrases like: “I can’t believe it”, “You suck!”, “I want this solved”, “I want it now, or I’ll go to your competitor!”

How to deal with this group of customers:

Like every business, we sometimes experience big issues, such as DDoS attacks, out of stock or shipping delays. These issues take time to fix.

The Mr. “I want it now” type of customer doesn’t understand that not everything can be done for them right now.

It’s not that they're a mean person in general, forcing you to do something that can’t be done. It’s just things are simply not as they imagined. So they threaten to leave.

Be patient and never respond with emotions. This type of customer needs a bit of time. Wait for the customer to calm down and explain in respect to their situation. Learning to say no to a customer can also be useful.

Mr. Complainer

From what I’ve learned in life, it’s really hard to satisfy people who are complaining. It’s not because you can’t solve their problem; it’s because they are constantly creating new problems themselves and keep on complaining about them.

It’s just their nature.

They don’t like the feeling of being satisfied.

How it looks:

This segment of customers comes to you and has a good whinge about something that's changed. Customers tend to find something to complain about in the hope of being 'right'.

They can’t understand that your business evolves and sometimes needs to change and try new things. They complain about those changes, but forget about it in a week. They get used to the new look, fall in love with it and can’t remember the previous one.

How to deal with this:

Even if sometimes you’ll manage to fix “the problem”, complaining customers might not even notice it. One thing is sure – pretty soon, they will find another “problem”. It’s because of their personality type - they’re grumpy.

And speaking of grumpy – their face and mind is not different from the grumpy cat. You don’t expect a grumpy cat to appreciate something and be pleasant, right? You watch the memes and laugh out loud. Try this approach with the complaining customer. Don’t forget to laugh inside.

The Lazy One

It’s funny because usually, the problem is a lazy service. But what about the lazy customer? Have you met one? Mr Lazy wants to do as little as possible on his own. They expect that you’ll do everything for him. They pay you, so sometimes they require that you do a little more for him.
Usually, they don’t want to overuse their authority, though. You can’t expect any initiative from them to do something they don't want to do, even if it will resolve their problem.

How it looks:

This type of customer is seen regularly by us here in LiveChat. A great example is a user that asks us to send their invoice directly to their accounting team - they simply don't want to do it.

How to deal with this:

Laziness is just a habit. It means it can be changed. In our case, Mr. Lazy needs to make a habit of sending invoices to the accountant.

We can teach them that it’s easy to do and it takes only a few minutes. If they do it a few times, chances are they will form a new habit. And they will take care of their own invoices every month.

Does it mean you shouldn’t go the extra mile for a customer when they ask you to?

Well, it all depends on the situation. I’m a big fan of doing a little extra for a customer but within reason. Whatever you decide, keep in mind, should Mr. Lazy get used to your help it will be hard to teach him to do differently.

I know better: the angry customers

This customer type doesn’t have to be a mean or angry customer, like Mr. “I want it now”. But they surely have an issue with accepting the answer they don’t like. The arguments don’t get to him. They are convinced of being right, and it’s almost impossible to change their beliefs.

How it looks:

A customer claims on chat that some features don’t work right. After looking into it and explaining that everything works fine, the customer simply doesn’t agree. They quit the chat and come back later, hoping another agent will give them a different answer.

How to deal with this:

In most cases, everything is working OK. The problem is that a customer doesn’t have sufficient knowledge about your product. They argue because he’s convinced they are right.

First, what you can do is to give positive feedback about his concerns. Then, your job is to explain how your product actually works patiently. If they still insist they're right, sending some statistics or a link to your knowledge base might be a good idea. His concern is probably explained there in detail.

If you give him resources and space to think about it, maybe they will notice they were wrong. And they wouldn’t have to admit it to you directly.
Since it’s hard for people to admit that they’re wrong, imagine how hard it is for Mr. “I know better.”

Empathy turns a new customer into a loyal customer.

Empathy is a critical component of successful customer service. When customers feel like they are being heard and understood, they are more likely to have a positive experience with a business. 

This is particularly true for angry and difficult customers. Rather than reacting defensively or dismissively, it's essential to approach these situations with empathy and understanding. By acknowledging the customer's

frustrations and offering a solution, businesses can turn negative experiences into positive ones.

Connect with customers

LiveChat is a complete customer service platform that delights your customers and fuels your sales.

Trusted by 36,000+ companies

Free 14-day trial

Conclusion: Handling with care

handling angry and difficult customers is crucial for maintaining a positive customer experience and protecting a business's reputation and turning new customers into loyal ones. Unhappy customers are the best ones to turn into brand advocates, as they present an opportunity to impress someone. 

Empathy, active listening, and de-escalation techniques are critical tools for addressing need-based customers and turning negative experiences into positive ones. Proper training and ongoing support for customer service representatives can create a flawless customer service experience. Businesses can create a positive customer experience and build customer loyalty by prioritising customer satisfaction and investing in proper training.