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4 Ways You Maybe a Difficult Customer

Updated on August 25, 2011
Dealing with difficult customers on a day to day basis can sap your energy and  lead to burn out
Dealing with difficult customers on a day to day basis can sap your energy and lead to burn out | Source
Yelling, screaming and cursing at a customer service worker is never acceptable
Yelling, screaming and cursing at a customer service worker is never acceptable | Source

A Candid Look At Difficult Customers

If you type up the words “customer service” in the Google search engine, you will see an astonishing seven hundred million results. Included in those results are many websites dedicated to outstanding customer service and also results of people relating bad experiences they’ve had with customer service. Included in that however is a topic not discussed very often, and that is information on how customer service representative can deal with difficult customers and the experiences they’ve had with bad customers. Difficult customers, you may say? “No, there’s no such thing. The customer is always right! The company is suppose to give the customer what they need!” And yes this is true. But it’s also true that customer service workers spend a great deal of their job working with irate or difficult people. We’re not just talking about people whose dissatisfaction is justifiable. I will not minimize any customer’s bad service experience with a customer that was clearly warranted. But there are some customers who can be unreasonable and unruly in what they want. Many people wonder why outstanding customer service is lacking these days? Sure there is lack of effective training, unprofessional attitudes and indifference to people.

But let’s talk about what’s not often talked about: one reason is because customer service representatives do become burnt out and stress out working at jobs with little pay and getting nothing but insults or demands hurled at them from the day to day. “Well if they do their job right the first time, they wouldn’t have to worry about that!” Some people would say. That can be true. But the truth is, they are human, and even those efficiently trained will experience burn out from dealing with difficult customers. Customers are suppose to be serviced to satisfaction, true. But does that mean in the process that they should throw respect for others out the window? Does it mean they should be rude and say anything they want to others and not offer any kind of courtesy? Well these are things customer service workers go through every day and a few others. Below is a list of four difficult customer scenarios they face on a day to day basis. Do you recognize yourself in any of these?

1. The “You Are Beneath Me” Customer-As explained earlier, most customer service jobs are not on the high paying end. In fact, a good deal of them are minimum wage jobs. There seems to be a stigma that those working in customer service related jobs are not highly educated and not smart or driven enough to go after higher end professional jobs. Therefore they may come across individuals who are making more money than they are who would treat them as if they were lower than they are. I think some of these people may have some superior complex and enjoying treating those who don’t have as much as they do with disdain to make themselves feel important. Empathy is something that customer service workers are trained to develop for customers. However, customers really don’t seem the need to have empathy for the workers. They’re pretty much thinking about themselves when they really don’t know the other person’s background. We should be careful to prejudge people just because they are in a certain position. We don’t know what hard times they might have gone through, or their life story, and just because someone makes less than them does not mean they are worth less. They are still people too. Respect goes both ways.

2.The Unprepared or Undecided When Time is Ticking Customer-It can be pretty frustrating being on a call with a customer who does not have any of their account information ready at the onset of the call, or having a customer waiting in line for minutes trying to decide what they would like to order while the line is growing behind them. Customers may not know this, but call center agents have a certain amount of time allotted to deal with a customer on a call so as not to keep other customers waiting. This does not mean a customer should be rushed off the phone, but at the same time, when a customer does not have all of their account information available at the onset of the call, it adds unnecessary time on the call. There was a company I worked with that specifically asked for the customer to have this information available before speaking with the representatives and we still had people calling without it. If the company you’re calling needs account information to verify you, please have the information available before placing the call, and please do not get upset with the reps who are requesting the information. The verification is for your protection from identity theft and fraud. For those who are undecided on what they want to order at a restaurant, how about stepping off the line to look at the menu and then when you know what you want, get in line that way when you get to the top of the line, the customer worker will be reading to help you out. Those standing behind you would appreciate it.

3. The “Treat You Like A Punching Bag” Customer-These are the type of customers that customer service workers dread the most. These are the ones that call or stand in line screaming, yelling and cursing at you with all of their might, and expect you to give them outstanding service in return. Now think about this: Imagine you were walking down the street minding your own business when someone walked up to you and started screaming to you about their problems. Well, normally you’d think “okay, why are you yelling at me? I don’t know you and I didn’t do anything to you!” It’s just as absurd when customers get on the phone or stand in line yelling at people they don’t know because someone in the company gave them a bad experience. I honestly feel the worst line a customer can give you is “I know it’s not your fault” or “I know you didn’t do it, but…” and then proceed to give you the earful of your life. Now again, I’m not going to sit here and say all customer service workers are angels. There are some bad apples in the mix, but do not call another customer service worker yelling and screaming over what someone else did. For one, they had nothing to do with it. Voice your displeasure in the professional way that you wanted to be treated. Morally speaking, it is never okay to yell, scream or curse at a customer service worker. I once had a pleasant customer who told me “I’m not one of those people who yell. I don’t understand how people can do that and expect to be helped.” Well, it’s because people believe that customer services workers could get in trouble if they said anything rude back to the customer. And they take that and using it to their advantage to say anything under the sun knowing the worker cannot say the same things back. Fortunately there are companies nowadays who are taking their workers into consideration and doing something about abusive customers.

4. The “Magically Make It Happen” Customer-This is the type of customer that feels entitled to everything he wants. In most cases, it could be something free, a credit for problems on their service that they never took the time to call about when the problem occurred, or to have the company break rules and policies to satisfy them. For him, customer service workers are genies with a magical lamp or wizards with wands who make everything they want appear despite company policies. They will use the “aren’t you suppose to make the customer happy?” line to guilt customer service workers into giving them what they want. They would see a deal offered to them, know what the terms and conditions were and still wanted us to go against it to appease them. Customer service workers do their best to work with customer and offer them what they can to satisfy them, including free things or discount promotions. But customer service workers should not be asked to go against company policies to appease or satisfied customers. If you’re signing up for a particular service, educate yourself on the terms and conditions. If they are not negotiable and what they have is not workable for you, it’s better for you not to sign up with them than to fight with them on their own policies to fit you. Just fine one that does fit you.

Outstanding customer service cannot be stressed. It is a necessity and a company's reputation can be built on it or crumble on it. But customers must also understand it’s not easy to deal with difficult customers, and though they are trained to do so, it can still be stressful and can burn them out. It is still human nature to want to be treated with dignity and respect. All humans want that, and customer service workers are no exception. So if we find ourselves in any of the descriptions above, and we’re standing in front of a customer service worker, let’s imagine ourselves on the other end, offer a little bit of kindness, empathy and respect. You just might be surprise how much you will make their day a little easier, and you might get rewarded for doing so!


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    • montecristo profile image

      Angel Caleb Santos 4 years ago from Hampton Roads, Virginia

      I worked as a service rep and know exactly what you mean. It is different once you take a look at the other side. Good hub.