Every business owner will deal with a difficult customer on more than one occasion during the course of their business. A difficult customer is difficult for everyone who is within ear shot, and sometimes there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. You are going to have customers that are unhappy for one reason or another. The difference between you and your competition all lies with how you handle this unhappy, difficult customer. Never treat an unhappy customer with an attitude, or assume that because they are unhappy with something they did something wrong. Sometimes products don’t work, and that is not your fault or the fault of your customer. There will be some who come in to make a fuss with the sole intention of getting you to give them a refund on a product you don’t sell. It is important to be able to tell the difference between a con artist, and a legitimately unhappy customer.
First, you should reassure this customer that you are there to help. “Sir why don’t you come over here and explain to me what is going on”. “Let me see what I can do to help you”, is a way to calm them down. Give them the opportunity to state what is on their minds. Be sincere, attentive, and be sure to listen. The person needs to know that someone is paying attention to them because they are unhappy and they want it fixed. It will continue to get worse if you aren’t listening or taking them seriously.
Next, be sincere in your offer to help. You have to follow company policy when trying to correct a situation that has a customer upset. So be sure to know what the policies are, and what you are authorized to do. If it is a faulty product then you could offer them a refund, or store credit. If your policy states they can’t return an item without the receipt, this is going to cause a problem if they don’t have a receipt. Offer to see if you can find it in your system, or get special approval if they are a regular customer. If you need a receipt and they don’t have one, but you took the time to see if you could locate it, they will appreciate that. If they have a receipt problem solved. If they are a regular customer maybe overlooking that they don’t have a receipt and offering a store credit is enough. Provided you sell the product in your store.
Do everything possible to help solve their problem. This will be what they remember. Be nice, courteous, and smile. You have to be on the lookout for the con artist. They will insist they bought a product from you that you have never had on your shelf. You just want them to leave as fast as possible, let them know you have never stocked that item. Don’t give them what they are looking for but suggest that they go home and see if they can find the receipt. If they insist they don’t have the receipt, but refuse to leave call the police to have them removed. Most of the time, these types of people will disappear quickly if they know the police are on the way. The other customers around you will remember that you were courteous, helpful, and pleasant.
Do not get confrontational with a customer no matter what the issue, or who the customer is. This never helps any situation, and every customer within ear shot will remember your attitude. Be respectful with your customers, even the con artist and your customers will know that if they have a problem you will do everything possible to correct the situation. Remember, not every unhappy customer is there to make life hell. Sometimes there is a legitimate complaint, and the difference is a happy customer that will keep coming back, instead of a customer who thinks you don’t care. Treat every customer as if they are your only customer, and you will keep them coming back.