A difficult customer is someone who contacts a company with a grievance, either to resolve an issue or to complain about a bad experience, and proves challenging for the agent in charge of the interaction.
Difficult customers are common in every call center. They might be facing the same problem one too many times, it might be they were routed and re-routed through many departments, or sometimes, they are simply having a very bad day. Handling difficult customers with grace offers valuable lessons for the call center agent and the company alike.
1. Difficult customers give your business a reality check
For every difficult client you have to handle, there are scores of unhappy consumers who don’t bother to voice their complaints. Therefore, an irate and challenging consumer serves as a wake-up call for your organization. You now have the incentive to fix this issue promptly so that you don’t have to deal with other customers who’ve faced the same challenges.
Difficult customer complaints can alert us to vulnerabilities in our organizational processes that we’d failed to notice previously. It’s easy for businesses to lose track of the status of specific service processes in between the hustle and bustle of daily operations. These lapses in service delivery could be the result of several factors – a rude staff member, complicated processes, or outdated technology.
Customers who are hard to handle – or who have an axe to grind – often bring about a reverse impact: they drag these buried issues to the forefront so that they can be properly addressed.
2. How you handle difficult customers shows how strong your internal processes are
Successful businesses have well-defined and refined systems for responding to customers. Putting these strategies to the test needs actual implementation. If you actively seek out client issues and have the competencies to calmly deal with tough customers, you can identify and change any internal policies that are responsible for an unsatisfactory client experience.
In the end, every complaint is a test of the system, as is the management’s monitoring of the complaint’s resolution. In fact, it will also test your training programs, and how prepared the team is to handle such situations, and throw light on what needs to be done next when it comes to coaching and mentoring agents.
3. These interactions facilitate on-the-job training
Handling difficult customers might teach you a lot about fixing common problems. It’s great for teaching new service reps how to think on their feet and solve problems as they happen. Tough conversations may often provide the greatest insights on how to improve contact center training.
Agents can discover a lot about their own attitudes and responses to issues and complaints from customers. They can better learn what to do and what to avoid, where to be patient, and where to escalate, right there on the job.
4. Handling difficult customers with grace can improve customer loyalty
The overwhelming majority of customers who share their issues on a call, will do so politely. They intend to be forthright about their experience with your company so that their problems may be resolved. Remember, customers who
are complaining do have a generally favorable impression of your business as a whole. All they want is a little support and understanding, and being difficult is just their way of showing their frustration and disappointment with a brand they’ve come to prefer.
A customer’s top priority when calling in with grievances is, therefore, how you respond to their comments. An agent’s ability to positively react to consumer feedback has been shown to boost customer satisfaction. They’ll appreciate how professional you were and will remain loyal to the brand and the product, reassured that you can handle the occasional altercation.
5. Digging deeper into these customer interactions can reveal valuable insights
All businesses spend considerable resources on customer surveys that aim to discover their desires, needs, and perceptions of value. Customers who are difficult to work with can often indirectly share these details, although in a negative tone. They may help you recognize major trends in the industry or in customer satisfaction.
For instance, let’s say you’re encountering frequent difficult customers who call with unrealistic expectations as your prices are high. Finding out why this is happening is in your organization’s best interest. A new firm could offer comparable services and features at the same price point, or maybe your rivals have slashed prices and are looking to grab a chunk of your customer base.
Instead of having to go out to look for a focus group, you can simply question, examine, and assess your most difficult customers. You will learn exactly how things stack up versus competing products. These invaluable insights can help shape both the immediate and long-term goals of the business.
Dealing with difficult and angry customers is part of every agent’s job description. In fact, the ability to handle these interactions with grace can make all the difference to your company’s bottom line. Sometimes, difficult customers can prove to be a blessing in disguise by providing a reality check, testing internal processes, facilitating training, driving loyalty, and uncovering insights.