By Sally Smith

Working in a customer service position can be rewarding, but it has its share of challenges just like any line of work. One of the most common and notable of these challenges is dealing with angry customers. In order to be an exemplary representative for your company, there are several things to keep in mind when confronted with difficult customers that are hard to please.

Demonstrate Your Diplomacy Skills

If you want to know how to deal with angry customers, you need to be able to negotiate. As a representative for your company, you have something that the customer wants. Ask questions that will help you gain a better understanding of the customer’s complaints. Once you’ve done that, use what you’ve learned to come up with a solution that will address those complaints. Don’t argue with the customer, even if you don’t agree with them or you know they’re wrong. Customers respond positively to consideration, but they don’t respond well to being argued with or antagonized.

For example, let’s say that you work in a call center that specializes in tech support. One customer calls and is livid that the assistance that another employee provided him didn’t help him. Instead of insisting that he must have done something wrong or asking if he followed the instructions, tell him that you’re sorry for the oversight of your employee and assure him that you would be more than happy to walk him through another solution.

Don’t Let Complaints Get to You

It can be difficult for many people working in customer service to distant themselves from their work. It’s easy to take criticisms and complaints personally, especially when you have irate customers yelling in your face. The key here is to not take these encounters personally. This can be hard to do, especially when it’s a regular part of your daily routine. One thing to keep in mind is that more than likely the customer is frustrated with the situation and the service, not you. Even if you do find yourself as the object of the customer’s anger, this is no reflection on you as a person.

For example, imagine that you work as a customer service representative for a pizza delivery company. A customer calls you, insists that you messed up his order, and then calls you incompetent for allowing his order to be incorrect. Just keep in mind that he is speaking in anger and he actually has no accurate summary of your work performance and personal qualifications. Don’t let this insult influence your perception of yourself. Just be as professional as you can be and do everything within your authority to see that his order is corrected.

Never Give Orders

When dealing with a difficult customer, avoid saying anything that can be construed as condescending. A customer will not respond kindly to being talked down to. For instance, don’t tell the customer to “relax” or “calm down.” This will most likely have the opposite effect. Instead, reassure the customer that you’ll do whatever you can to help. Instead of giving instructions, try saying, “We’ll make this right for you” or “I promise that you’ll be very happy with the result.” These assurances will let the customer know that you’re dedicated to rectifying the situation.

Don’t Sacrifice Your Company’s Integrity

It can be tempting to offer a difficult customer anything to appease their anger, but sometimes giving them exactly what they want isn’t an option. Sometimes what they want isn’t physically possible for you to provide and sometimes it goes beyond the scope of your authority.

For instance, imagine that you work for a graphic design company and your assignment is to develop a website for a client’s business. You present the finished product to your client, but they say the quality falls short of the price they already agreed to with your supervisor. Your supervisor has gone home for the day, so the client insists on being given their home number. This is a violation of company policy, so while breaking the rules in this case will please your client, the company will be viewed as not honoring their employees’ privacy.

Learning how to handle difficult customers is a highly useful and necessary skill in a customer service position, but no matter how well prepared you are for the day, there are always going to be customers that throw you for a loop. If you’re considering a job in customer service, ask yourself: how would you handle a difficult customer?