Starting Your Business

Handling a Difficult Customer

Written by Rayzelle Forrest Young for Gaebler Ventures

Highlights techniques to use when encountered by a difficult customer.

Dealing with a difficult customer is inevitable when you're running a business.

Handling a Difficult Customer

At some point or another you will encounter a customer who is dissatisfied with either your customer service, products, or both. You will need to know how to handle these customers in order to maintain the integrity of your business and keep the customer coming back to do business with you.


When dealing with a difficult customer, particularly an angry one, stay calm and listen. More than likely they are yelling and may be swearing. Listen to what they're saying and don't argue back. That will only make the situation worse. Try to figure out what they're complaining about so you'll know what you need to do next.


Empathize with the customer by placing yourself in their situation. Try to see things from that person's point of view. People that are upset usually feel like no one is listening and seeing their side of the story. Empathizing with them will give them the impression that you care about their situation and are genuinely concerned with finding a solution to the problem. Once the person realizes that you do care, they will more than likely calm down.

Find The Problem

This step is important because it will put you on the path of solving the entire situation. A difficult customer may clearly state what the problem is or you may have to siphon through screaming and hollering to get to it. The problem could be as simple as not being able to find what they are looking for and not getting any help at finding it. You need to find the problem as quickly as you can in order to rectify the situation before other customers get uncomfortable and leave. The last thing you want to do is lose business because of an unsatisfied customer.

Don't Blame

Stay away from language that sounds like you're blaming the customer. Don't say things like "Are you sure you asked for help?". This will only upset the customer again and start the venting all over. Reassure them that you understand their point of view and you'll do every thing in your power to get the problem resolved as quickly as possible.

Find The Solution

Once the customer has calmed down, repeat the problem to them just so you know exactly how to solve it. This will also ease the customers concerns and give them the assurance that everything will be okay. After you have found the solution, let the customer know that you'll do all you can to make sure the problem never happens again.

Taking these steps when dealing with a difficult customer should help the situation get resolved as quickly and as hassle free as possible. Remember to try and see things from that person's point of view and don't use "blaming" language.

Rayzelle is an entrepreneur and writer. Based on her experiences as an owner of her own dance studio, she will share her personal tips on being a successful entrepreneur.

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