Dealing With Difficult Customers- Avoid Red Flag Words [Management Tip]

September 4, 2020

When dealing with upset, angry, or difficult customers it can be very easy to become upset and angry ourselves. As the professional in the situation it is our job to remain calm and assist the customer. In doing so we need to make sure we are not further upsetting our client. In my experience there are some key words or phrases that can trigger your already upset customer to become even more upset or angry. I call this list of words the “red flag” words. Why red flag? Well have you ever been to a rodeo Bull fight and watched the matador wave a red flag in front of a bull? What happens to the bull? They become even more agitated and aggressive. We want to avoid further agitating our customers! So here is the list: Can’t, Won’t, You have to, Policy, Yes – but, and I told you. We never want to tell our clients what we can’t or won’t do for them, instead try saying “What I can do is..”
Customers don’t want to be told what THEY have to do, so also avoid the “you have to” or “you need to” phrases. Policy, we don’t use the word policy with our guests; policy is internal not external. Your employees are the only people who need to know what your policy is. Yes – but, when you add that but after the yes you have basically turned that yes into a no. And finally, “I told you” when someone says this how does it make you feel? Who is the person you most often heard this phrase from? Your parents. Your client does not want to feel like a child so please avoid this phrase. One final piece of advice when dealing with a difficult customer: use the phrase “If you just give me a chance, I KNOW, I CAN help” Hopefully the next time you have a difficult customer you will be able to take control of the experience and turn it into a great one, in turn making your difficult customer one of your best repeat customers!
-Bill Haas & Sara Fraser of Haas Performance Consulting

LBT-346 Dealing With Difficult Customers
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LBT-346 Dealing With Difficult Customers

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It is a tough job to be helpful and provide great customer service when a guest is confrontational, unreasonable or over demanding. Let’s not overlook the impact on your store’s profits. Many times these situations result in performing work for no pay, refunds or even a lost customer. And don’t forget your reputation is at risk.

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