Identifying and dealing with difficult clients

When it comes to customer service, there is no universal definition of a “difficult client” or “difficult situation.” What one person finds challenging, another might find easy. In this article Smartful trainer Reelika Jeferjev shares her insights on handling difficult clients and provides valuable tips for managing these situations effectively.

Key challenges and how to understand them

As a trainer and communication coach, I have observed that difficult situations and clients often stem from individual experiences and personal fears. Most communication difficulties boil down to fear — fear of not being understood, fear of being wrong, or fear of rejection. These fears can hinder us from taking responsibility and expressing our best selves. Instead, we tend to adhere strictly to rules, aiming to do the ‘right thing,’ which can sometimes result in inaction or ineffective responses.

Personal experiences and typical difficult clients

From my personal experience, I have encountered several types of difficult clients:

  • Demanding customer: This client wants everything immediately and done perfectly. Their demanding nature often stems from a fear of not receiving good service.
  • Emotional customer: Easily upset and emotionally charged, it’s essential to stay calm and empathetic with this client, understanding the story behind their emotions.
  • Skeptical customer: This client does not trust the service provider or the product. They need more information and reassurance to feel confident in their decision.
  • Flight and attack customer: They react to problems by either fleeing or attacking. It’s crucial to remain assertive and not be provoked when dealing with them.

Understanding why a particular situation or client is difficult can help you find the right solutions. In my training for customer service representatives, we focus on this understanding, helping them remain centered and be their best selves. This approach supports the quickest resolution of any disagreement.

During the training we:

  • face and overcome fears and barriers in customer service,
  • look at effective communication strategies when dealing with different types of customers,
  • explore the nature of empathy and active listening,
  • address the development of self-confidence and responsibility-taking skills within oneself.

If you want to learn how to handle difficult clients and situations effectively, our training is the perfect development tool for you. Our goal is to help you become the best version of yourself and effectively manage differences with colleagues.

Read more about the training here.

Reelika Jeferjev, a trainer and communication coach, graduated from the Estonian-American Business Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurship and Business Administration. With around 20 years of experience, she specializes in customer service and management training. Reelika is dedicated to helping participants achieve mastery of customer service and providing companies with valuable solutions for challenging situations.

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