Finding success in dealing with demanding customers can be accomplished when you approach the situation in the right way. There are things to be learned from a demanding customer, but remember that there are some people you cannot satisfy no matter how hard you try.
Listen and Learn
Listen at all costs. One of the big mistakes companies make when dealing with a difficult customer is not allowing the customer to air his entire complaint before the employee begins reciting company policy or offering the company's side of the argument. In many cases a demanding customer's complaint is simply a comment he feels you should hear. Some people have a confrontational nature to them, so when they present an idea they feel strongly about, it can come across as a complaint. An argument will normally erupt when an employee doesn't listen to what the customer is saying and automatically assumes that the customer is starting a confrontation. Train your employees to listen to what demanding and difficult customers have to say before they react, and it's possible that many of the situations that could turn bad for your company may actually turn out to be opportunities to learn how your company can better serve the customer.
A demanding customer is still a customer, and should be treated with the concern and gratitude you would treat any other customer. When a demanding customer registers a complaint, always thank her for taking the time to bring something to your attention and indicate that you'll do everything you can to solve the problem. Listen attentively and ask questions as she talks; this helps reinforce the notion that you are genuinely interested in what's being said. Avoid putting on a fake smile. A demanding customer is not interested in being patronized, so have a genuine conversation with her and use a steady but compassionate tone.
Always repeat the issue back to the customer so that he can confirm that you understand what he is saying. This helps you understand the situation completely, and it will continue to enhance the feeling with the customer that you're trying to help. The customer is less likely to elevate the conversation to the level of a confrontation if you show genuine interest in trying to help solve her problem.
If your company has made an obvious error that has caused a customer to become enraged, it's in your best interest to satisfy that customer as completely as possible, regardless of the cost. In some cases, it may be something as simple as replacing a defective product. But if property damage or physical harm has happened because of your product, that's not something that can be solved in one conversation.
If the error is on the part of the customer and he simply doesn't like your company's policies, you're best served to stand your ground and let the customer know what you can do within the guidelines of the company. If you allow one demanding customer to get a free ride because he complains, he'll send a line of demanding customers your way. Make sure you know your company's policies on the topic being discussed, and then stand your ground.
George N. Root III began writing professionally in 1985. His publishing credits include a weekly column in the "Lockport Union Sun and Journal" along with the "Spectrum," the "Niagara Falls Gazette," "Tonawanda News," "Watertown Daily News" and the "Buffalo News." Root has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the State University of New York, Buffalo.