How to Handle Your Online Store’s Difficult Customers


Every business owner knows the value of good customer service. Building a strong rapport with customers is extremely important for creating bonds that increase brand loyalty. Good customer service means that buyers are more likely to be forgiving if there is an issue with their product.

In a recent survey, 78% of respondents said that they would do business with a company again after a mistake if they provide good customer service. Creating happy customers is pretty much business 101. But sometimes it isn’t quite as easy as that. 

What about the times when customers are being difficult, or stubborn? While this may not be the time or place to expect a manager to pass on first call resolution tips to support staff, some mentoring will prove useful. 

In times like these, it’s very tempting to display our true feelings. One of the indicators of a high-performing service agent; however, is whether they put good customer service ahead of their personal feelings.

What is the easiest way to keep your cool? Here are some simple steps that you can take to ensure that you’re providing the best customer service.

The Customer Is Always Right


The saying “the customer is always right” is a saying that is drilled into the head of every business owner. But putting this phrase into practice is easier said than done. Remember, just because it may not always be true, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t act like it is.

No matter what the customer is saying, never respond in anger. This will simply influence them to leave a bad review online. Too many bad reviews, and you’ll find that your business is failing to retain customers. Instead of resorting to frustration, try to suggest methods that might help the customer.

Are they struggling to use a certain feature of your website or app? Try to find a fix for the issue. Has their product arrived damaged or in poor condition? Refund them or offer to send a replacement. Whatever their issue, see what you can do to help them out.

If you find the situation is getting a bit much, there’s no shame in stepping away for five to ten minutes. Now, if you’re on a call with the customer this solution simply won’t work. Instead, practice some breathing exercises. A short break or some deep breaths might help to cool your head and find a way through the situation.

If a customer is complaining about something that is entirely out of your power, gently remind them that there is little that you can do to help.

The bottom line is, do everything you can to remain calm and to reassure the customer that their grievances are being heard.

Learn to Grow a Thicker Skin

Some customers know how to air their grievances helpfully and constructively. Other customers are yet to learn this skill. If you’re dealing with the latter, you should be prepared for a barrage of attacks, which may involve obscenity or a fair amount of shouting. Be prepared for these kinds of situations by growing thicker skin.

This means you shouldn’t shrink away from difficult situations with customers. Learn to brush aside angry comments, and instead, work to find solutions that will help calm the customer. It’s easier said than done but can be an effective way of dealing with difficult customers. It also proves to customers that you’re serious about providing a good service.

Obviously, when it comes to personal attacks, there can be no compromise. If a customer resorts to these kinds of insults, there’s only one solution – hang up. There’s no reason why you should be subjected to attacks that could damage your mental wellbeing.  

Take Responsibility


As tempting as it may be to cross swords with a customer, it’s far better to apologize and take full responsibility for issues. At the end of the day, bickering and refusing to apologize to customers reflects badly on your business and reduces the likelihood that people will shop with you again.

By apologizing and accepting full responsibility for faults, you prove to customers that you are ready and willing to listen to their concerns.

Of course, if it’s obvious that a customer is lying about a fault simply to get free discounts, you should politely send them on their way.

Look for the Solution

Usually, there is a rational reason to explain a customer’s anger. Perhaps they have received a faulty or damaged product. Maybe they are having an issue with your website or app. Whatever the problem, there will likely be a solution.

If you’re serious about providing good customer service, look to fix these problems before they happen. Are there any customer complaints that you receive regularly? What can be done to ensure they don’t crop up in the future? Similarly, how can you work to provide a better shopping experience for your customers?

By finding common causes for customer complaints, you can work to find a solution. This makes your life easier and improves the quality of your customer service. 

Take Complaints Seriously

As frustrating as difficult customers can be, try to come from a place of understanding. The best way that you can prove that you take complaints seriously, is by being ready to receive calls wherever you are. Look for remote support software for small business so that you and your employees can respond to complaints whilst on the move.

There are various techniques that you can deploy to help reassure customers that they are being listened to.

One is to practice active listening. With this technique, you can be fully engaged in conversation with a customer and more clearly understand their needs. This allows you to provide better solutions. Part of active listening is to remain silent when a customer is speaking. This can be surprisingly difficult as our natural instinct is to jump in and offer a resolution.

When you do speak, try to give a rundown of what a customer has told you. This helps to illustrate that you have been listening and proves that you are more likely to give reliable advice.

In addition to active listening, there are some other basic signals that you can utilize that help show you are listening to customers. If you’re talking to a customer over a video call, think about your body language.

Avoid crossing your arms, as this signals that you are uncomfortable. Instead, assume a relaxed body language that encourages customers to be more open. You should also be aware of the customer’s body language and facial expressions. Try to show emotional intelligence. If they seem tense you can adjust your approach to help alleviate stress.

Ultimately, the reputation of your business’s customer service will depend on how seriously you are seen to take customer complaints.

Be a People Person

Are you a people person? If not, it’s probably a good idea to hire someone that is more personable to deal with customer complaints. Customers want someone who gives the impression of being enthusiastic and attentive to their needs. Surveys show that 63% of consumers expect businesses to know their unique needs and expectations.

Make sure you hire enough people that can properly accommodate the volume of customer complaints. Consider ecommerce automation, so that you can focus more of your efforts on customer service.

When hiring staff to aid customers, choose people with the right mentality and personality. They should not only know and understand your business but believe in it, too.  

Remember, the attitude of your employee will be seen to reflect the attitude of your business. If your employee is cold and offering little help, then the customer will associate this attitude with your business.

If necessary, think about separating staff into teams to deal with complaints. Make sure that staff know how to transfer a call when necessary.

By hiring the right people with the best attitude, you can take your customer service to the next level.

Train When Necessary


Customer service is a vital skill for improving any online store. If your business is to survive against competitors, you and your employees need to provide the best support possible. This means that even if you’ve had a bad day, you need to smile and appear positive when dealing with customer complaints.

To some, this kind of attitude comes more naturally. For others, it’s a skill that needs to be learned. Examine your team of employees, are there some that need to improve the quality of their customer service? If so, some form of workshop or training program could help them to acquire the skills they need.  

Research different courses or workshops that are available and identify an option that works for you and your employees. 

Avoid Too Much Hardware

One of the downsides to customer service is installing hardware such as landline phones, to get in contact with customers.

If your office is a small space and already filled with computers and other forms of hardware, it can lead to a cramped working environment. A cloud phone service does away with physical hardware, helping to save space.

It’s All About the Attitude

Dealing with difficult customers is never a fun task, nor does it often feel the most rewarding. Luckily there are methods such as CRM automation for minimizing the more repetitive tasks

But when it comes to more difficult situations, there’s no doubt that businesses that can diffuse tense situations with customers, will be recognized for providing better customer service.

In the end, it’s all about attitude. If you’re open to calm dialogue and actively looking for ways to improve your business, you’ll find it easier to adapt to any difficult situations with customers.