I am really big on “customer care,” and I have been so for a very long time. Customers are the lifeblood of our business; without them, we have no business. Sounds simple enough, but—this is a really big “but”—occasionally I have met the “customer from hell,” and I would wager good money that you have, too.
I need to say right up front that most people who complain have a legitimate reason to do so, and we should always actively welcome customer complaints. However, sometimes it is just not possible to reach agreement with or appease a dissatisfied customer or client.
There are two main types of “customer from hell” that we need to be on the lookout for:
- The Manipulator. Everyone would like something for nothing given the chance, but most of us stop short of deliberate scheming. Those who are clearly complaining simply to get freebies—meals, vouchers, tickets—need to be handled firmly. Otherwise they may go away and tell their friends to try the same trick—and put you out of business.
- The Noisy One. Symptoms include plenty of volume, fist thumping, table banging, bulging veins but no real cause for complaint. Sound familiar? These people just want to be heard. They’ve got a bit of a chip on their shoulder. Take them away from the crowd, sit them down (it’s harder to be angry in a seated position), stay in control and, if all else fails, say, “I’m not prepared to listen until you stop shouting.” If need be, call for backup.
The following are techniques for special situations: