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Every customer service provider runs into difficult people or difficult situations regularly. But what’s constitutes a ‘difficult customer’? What’s the definition of a ‘difficult customer’ in the customer service world?

It may be that they’re angry or upset about some real or imagined slight. Whatever the cause, when emotions run high, it’s difficult to get the information we need from customers to make the situation right for them.

Or, perhaps the customer is just a very poor listener and we’re having trouble getting information across to them. There may be language barriers, or some people are just poor communicators and need help crystallizing their thinking in order to let us know what they need.

And then sometimes it’s a customer who talks too much – they’re not angry or upset, they just take up an inordinate amount of our time without accomplishing anything and it’s hard to extract ourselves from that conversation politely.

Difficult people are usually defined by how challenged customer service providers feel when trying to fix the situation for a customer.

The answer typically lies in having a step-by-step process to follow that will accomplish several things: first, to allow the customer to vent their emotion and ‘get it all out there’; once they’ve vented, we need to have an information exchange – to question and gather all the information we need to understand the situation; and finally to offer a solution and ensure they’re satisfied with that solution.

Remember, we need to fix two things: we need to fix the problem and we need to fix the customer. In other words, they need to feel good about being heard, being respected and getting the help they are looking for.