In a business environment, it's inevitable that a certain percentage of customers will be unhappy with the service or products they have received. This can create difficult situations for employees. The ability to deal with these situations effectively and diplomatically is the sign of a good employee who understands how to defuse potentially difficult situations.

Angry Customer

Anyone who works in retail long enough will have to deal with an angry customer. Even when their complaints are justified, some people don't deal with it effectively, and will take out their anger on whoever is available. Employees who face the public need to be prepared for this, and to know how to deal with it when it happens. As long as an angry customer is merely venting her feelings about something, the employee should be appropriately calm, listen sympathetically and steer the customer to an isolated location away from other customers. If the angry customer becomes abusive or potentially destructive, security should be called and the customer should be escorted from the premises.

Defective Merchandise

Merchandise that has a problem or flaw is a frequent cause of unhappy customers and difficult business situations. An employee confronted with a complaint about defective merchandise should not argue with the customer, but should ask for all relevant information concerning the flaw and the complaint. Sometimes, particularly in the case of electronics or complicated products, the perceived flaw is the result of the customer being unfamiliar with the workings of the product, and the problem can be resolved by explaining the product to the customer. If the product is genuinely flawed, the customer should be provided with either a replacement or a refund.

Complaints About Bad Service

Service complaints can happen anywhere. The difficulty of these situations can vary greatly, from someone politely registering a complaint to someone raging incoherently. Bad service complaints may be based on real problems or on the customer's imagination, but should always be treated as real to avoid further provoking the customer.

Complaints About Rude Employees

Rude employees are a particular subset of bad service that are particularly aggravating to customers. The combination of a rude employee and a sensitive customer can lead to a very difficult situation. If you are a manager who witnesses, or receives credible reports of, an employee being rude to a customer, you should take immediate action to set the employee straight. Few things are more damaging to a business than a reputation of being rude and uncaring to customers.

Complaints From Impaired Customers

Sometimes, a customer's complaint is incoherent because he is drunk, stoned or just plain crazy. For example, this can occur in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, and should be treated very carefully, as people under the influence are less able to control their anger and impulses. Bars and clubs often hire experts, known as "bouncers," to step in when things get out of hand.