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How to handle difficult customers

How to handle difficult customers

A successful e-commerce business works with a lot of customers. Over the course of running your e-commerce business, there is a likelihood of encountering difficult customers. It can sometimes be a challenge to deal with customers that won’t back down or demonstrate a lot of anger. In this article, we’ll cover how to deal with customers like this.

Difficult customers can arise from issues with your product quality, your customer service, the order fulfilment or a mix of these.

Product issues

Normally, if there’s an issue with the product, it is due to its quality or it wasn’t what the customer was expecting. There may also be customers that have experienced an unidentified safety issue. In any of these circumstances, there is potential for customers to become difficult or even very angry.

Whether it’s over the phone, via email or via live chat, an angry customer can sometimes feel overwhelming. If there is a product safety issue, they may even threaten you. In situations like this, it is key to stay calm. Responding to anger with more anger will only make the situation worse and will squander all hopes of turning things around. Remember, if you handle the situation successfully, you may retain this upset customer, by simply providing them with a replacement product or a form of compensation. 

Make sure you document product complaints appropriately and accurately. A product quality issue needs to be analysed and followed up on in the future to improve your business overall.

Customer service complaints

When it comes to customer service, preparation is key. To prevent angry customers, make sure you’ve got a customer service procedure that allows customers to make contact in a way that is convenient for them. Try not to leave them waiting for too long and don’t make the process long-winded. This only adds to the frustration and sets you up to fail.

Also, ensure that you or your staff are fully knowledgeable on the products and services you provide. There’s no point putting a customer on a call with someone who can’t help.

If your customer is still heavily unsatisfied with your service, you must still treat them with respect, despite how they are acting. It can be easy to take it personally when customers criticise the service you are providing. Instead of dwelling on this or becoming frustrated yourself, accept this and work on finding a solution to the customer’s problem. Every situation is unique but some difficult customers are not worth fighting with.

If you’ve had a tough day dealing with customers, it can sometimes help to practise breathing techniques, repeating the customers’ situation back to them or by asking questions. By answering your questions or hearing their situation repeated back at them, they are thinking through their situation and will soon realise that you are personally not to blame.

If your attempts to calmly address the customer and present a solution fail, you need to make sure that the customer is not crossing the line with their behaviour. Work out for yourself how much aggression you are willing to take. If ever things turn abusive, know at which point to say enough is enough. You have the right to refuse to deal with the customer if they are being abusive or overly aggressive, for the sake of your emotional wellbeing. 

Delivery Complaints

Sometimes, if you’ve got an angry or frustrated customer, it is likely the result of several failed attempts to get what they want – whether this is related to your business or not. Perhaps they’ve had trouble with the same courier over and over again, or they’ve had a bad day. Eventually, this build-up of frustration culminates and customers have had enough. When this is due to poor fulfilment of orders, this is sometimes out of your control and may seem unfair towards your business. But remember, the customer doesn’t know this. To them, you are responsible for choosing a fulfilment company that delivers on what they promise.

In the moment, it’s important to actively listen to the customer. By understanding why they have these frustrations, you’re better equipped to deal with the customer and work on a response that both acknowledges their issue and empathises with them.

Once you’ve listened to what the customer has said, include specifics in your response. This shows them that you have listened and that you understand the issue. The main thing, however, is to empathise and acknowledge how they feel.

Another effective way to diffuse an angry customer is to talk through solutions with them as if you are working together. Using phrases that include them and asking them to help you by providing information (such as account details) will help make it feel like a collaborative effort to resolve the issue, rather than you vs them. A collaborative atmosphere will help placate the customer.

Have you got a fulfilment company that you can trust to deliver safely and effectively? Ogden Fulfilment provides a competitive, bespoke service for e-commerce businesses across the UK. Find out how Ogden Fulfilment can help you greatly improve your e-commerce fulfilment.

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