“96% of unhappy customers don’t complain; however, 91% of those will simply leave and never come back.”
1Financial Training services.

Running a rental business in 2023 comes with its share of challenges, and dealing with an upset customer can really test your patience. Whether you’re just starting your day or buried in paperwork, handling a frustrated customer is never easy. It’s common to feel annoyed initially, but overreacting quickly by ending the relationship can harm your business. Unhappy customers tend to share their bad experiences, and studies show that one dissatisfied customer might tell more than 15 others about their ordeal.

However, managing these situations well can transform a tough customer into a loyal one. By being proactive in customer service and using the right tools, you can ensure your team handles every customer brilliantly.

In this article, we’ll explore how to deal with a difficult customer by understanding their personalities, communicating effectively, and preventing problems before they start. We’ll also cover the best practices for interacting with all customers and when to part ways with them.

Types of Difficult Customers

Dealing with tough customers is both an art and a science. Each customer is different. Some might seem difficult from the moment they walk in, while others only become challenging under stress. Sometimes, a customer is very nice until something doesn’t go their way.

Not all difficult customers are easy to spot because they’re loud or pushy. Many have other traits that can make them hard to handle. You can often tell who might be a difficult customer before problems start. You can adjust how you serve them to avoid problems by getting to know their personalities.

So, how do you spot and deal with difficult customers before problems arise?  Here are some common types of difficult customers:

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1. Methodical Maria

Methodical Maria pays attention to every detail. She expects every piece of information to be accurate and comprehensive. This can make her a difficult customer because she will notice any small mistake or oversight. Maria often asks many questions to ensure that every detail has been considered and that nothing is overlooked.

What Frustrates Methodical Maria

Maria’s high standards for information and documentation can be demanding. She is not satisfied with quick summaries or overviews. Instead, Maria requires complete explanations and precise details for everything from product specifications to billing. If the information provided to her seems rushed or incomplete, Maria will likely feel uneasy and dissatisfied.

Accuracy is critical for Maria. Any discrepancies or errors in the data provided can undermine her trust in your service. She relies heavily on precise information to make informed decisions, especially in scenarios involving financial transactions or contractual agreements. Errors that might seem minor to others can be significant for Maria, affecting her confidence in the accuracy of your business practices.

How To Work Well With Methodical Maria

Methodical Maria likes to know all the details. She wants facts, figures, and in-depth information before making decisions. When helping her, provide detailed answers to her questions and thorough explanations.

Always give her a detailed invoice that clearly breaks down all the costs. She’s very particular about paperwork, so make sure any documents you give her are current and easy to read. By being honest and clear in your service, you’ll go beyond meeting her expectations.

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2. Creative Claire

Creative Claire is an event planner with a passion for making her ideas come to life. She loves having a lot of options and beautiful presentations to choose from. Claire’s desire for uniqueness in every detail can make her a difficult customer. She expects a wide range of choices and insists on seeing everything displayed beautifully, which can be challenging to provide consistently. If the options are limited or not up to her standards, Claire can become disappointed and frustrated. Her high expectations for creativity and perfection require extra effort and flexibility from those working with her, making her one of the more challenging customers to satisfy.

What Frustrates Creative Claire

Claire gets upset when she doesn’t have many choices and the options don’t look good. As an event planner, she wants to create unforgettable and special events, so she needs to have lots of different options. When there aren’t enough choices, Claire feels stuck and can’t make her events as amazing as she wants. This makes it hard for her events to be noticed, which is very important for her job and for making her clients happy.

Claire also likes to see clear pictures or examples of what her events will look like before she decides. If she can’t see detailed previews of the event setups, it’s hard for her to know how everything will turn out. Not having these visual tools makes it difficult for her to make choices and makes her worry more because she isn’t sure if the event will be successful. She likes using tools that show her how decorations, layouts, and themes will look in the actual event space, which helps her plan better and feel more confident.

How To Work Well With Creative Claire

To truly cater to Creative Claire, go beyond standard product offerings. Introduce her to new and unique items that can help her stand out in her event planning. Organize your products in themed collections, such as “Vintage Elegance” or “Modern Chic,” to make it easier for her to visualize and choose.

Additionally, offer virtual tours of event setups or use so that Claire can view her options in person. This can help her make informed decisions quickly, ensuring that her creative needs are met with precision.

By offering various choices and creatively presenting your products, you’ll make a memorable impact on Creative Claire.

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3. Commanding Carry

Commanding Carry values efficiency and skill in everything she does. She’s goal-oriented and expects a seamless experience when using services. Carry likes quick, clear actions rather than long conversations. She is always searching for the most direct way to achieve her objectives. Her main focus is on efficiency—getting things done quickly and well. Carry’s drive for fast results and her dislike for delays can make her a challenging customer. She has high expectations for speed and quality, and anything less can lead to dissatisfaction. Working with her requires a focus on swift, competent service to meet her high standards.

What Frustrates Commanding Carry

Carry gets upset when things don’t move quickly or when processes are too complex. She prefers straightforward communication and doesn’t like getting bogged down in lengthy emails. Delays in decision-making can be particularly frustrating for her.

If Carry senses that progress is slow or that people aren’t performing their tasks efficiently, it can really bother her. She values speed and efficiency because she wants to achieve her goals without unnecessary delays.

How To Work Well With Commanding Carry

When procedures are streamlined and everyone is performing their roles competently, Carry is happiest. Anything that disrupts the flow of her plans or wastes her time is likely to make her unhappy.

To keep Carry happy, consider using a smart rental management system that lets customers handle things themselves. You’ll also want to look for software that can automate tasks like email communications so that Carry doesn’t have to wait for confirmations. Being quick to respond and showing you know what you are doing will also impress her. By letting her manage her own needs and answering her quickly, you show that you respect her time. This helps you do better than other companies that might make her wait.

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Last Minute Larry

Last Minute Larry is focused on speed and simplicity. He often decides and orders things at the very last moment, which means he always looks for the fastest way to get things done. This last-minute nature makes him a difficult customer because he expects immediate responses and quick actions from others.

What Frustrates Last Minute Larry

He doesn’t like to wait for answers to his emails, and if the steps to get something done are too long or confusing, it frustrates him. This is because Larry often needs things done right away. When he’s in a rush and the service is slow or the process is not straightforward, it makes him anxious. He relies on quick responses and simple procedures to handle his last-minute needs.

If these expectations are not met, Larry feels stressed and unhappy because he can’t accomplish his goals as quickly as he hoped. This pressure for speed can be a big challenge for those trying to help him, especially if they need more time to provide good service.

How To Work Well With Last Minute Larry

For customers like Larry who often need things last minute, consider offering a priority service option. This might involve expedited shipping, priority in order processing, or even a dedicated customer service line for urgent requests. A small premium for these services can be justified by the convenience and speed they offer.

Consider using rental management software that can automate communication, such as sending order confirmations, payment notifications, and updates about order status. This helps keep Larry informed automatically, saving him time and reducing his stress. When you proactively update him on his order’s progress, Larry feels more secure and satisfied with the service, knowing that everything is on track even when he can’t get immediate responses.


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5. Confused Carol

Indecisive and inquisitive, Confused Carol often seeks guidance and education to overcome her uncertainty. She desires a deep understanding of all details before she can make a choice, which makes her a difficult customer to satisfy quickly.

Each interaction with her typically involves a detailed conversation, and she may revisit the same questions multiple times to ensure she has fully grasped the information. This meticulousness, while valuable for making informed decisions, can slow down the service process and demands a high level of engagement from those assisting her.

What Frustrates Confused Carol

Confused Carol becomes frustrated when information is not presented clearly or if she feels rushed through decisions. She dislikes situations where explanations are brief or ambiguous, as this increases her uncertainty and stress.

Quick-paced environments or pressure to make fast decisions can overwhelm her, leading to more questions and heightened anxiety. Carol’s frustration grows if she perceives that her need for thorough understanding is not being met with patience or adequate support from those assisting her. Her ideal service experience involves calm, comprehensive interactions that cater to her pace and learning style.

How To Work Well With Confused Carol

Confused Carol is a customer that you will need to offer personalized guidance to, and you can free up time to dedicate to her when you automate other tasks that usually need manual work

To help Confused Carol feel more comfortable and supported, providing resources like FAQ pages and thorough documentation can be extremely beneficial. These tools offer her a way to independently find detailed answers at her own pace, which is crucial for her understanding and decision-making process.

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6. Bargain Betty

Bargain Betty is always on the hunt for the best deals. She is very price-conscious and wants to make sure she’s getting great value for her money. While Betty is focused on affordability, she also cares deeply about the quality and benefits of what she purchases. She needs to feel confident that she’s making a smart, economical choice. This combination of wanting low prices but high quality can make her a difficult customer.

Betty often requires extra reassurance and detailed explanations to feel satisfied with her purchases. Her high expectations for both value and quality mean that she might question pricing more than other customers, needing clear justifications for costs to ensure she’s making the best decision.

What Frustrates Bargain Betty

Bargain Betty becomes frustrated when pricing isn’t clear or when she feels that the cost of a service or product doesn’t match its value. She dislikes hidden fees or confusing pricing structures that make it hard for her to understand exactly what she’s paying for. Betty needs transparency to feel comfortable with a purchase. She can also be discouraged by prices that seem too high without a clear justification of the value.

How To Work Well With Bargain Betty

To work well with Bargain Betty, make sure to clearly document and explain your costs and the value of your services. Highlight the quality of what you offer and explain how your prices are set.

Offering competitive pricing, discounts, or loyalty programs can also appeal to Betty, making her more likely to choose your business. Ensure that all pricing information is straightforward and that all potential savings or value propositions are well communicated.

This approach will help Betty feel informed and satisfied that she is making a cost-effective decision.


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7. Chatty Cathy

Chatty Cathy loves to engage in conversation and share her stories, valuing deep personal connections. She enjoys interactions that are friendly and meaningful, and especially appreciates when businesses remember her preferences and address her by name, making her feel valued and recognized. Her sociable nature makes her receptive to personalized and attentive interactions. However, this need for personalized communication can make her a difficult customer.

Cathy requires more time and attention than the average customer, expecting each interaction to be engaging and personalized. When her expectations for a personal touch are not met, or if communications feel too generic and impersonal, it can lead to dissatisfaction.

What Frustrates Chatty Cathy

Cathy becomes frustrated when interactions feel rushed or impersonal. She dislikes generic communications that do not acknowledge her individual preferences or past interactions. Cathy expects more than just transactional exchanges; she seeks a human touch and genuine engagement. When businesses fail to provide this level of personal interaction, it can leave her feeling undervalued and disconnected.

How To Work Well With Chatty Cathy

To efficiently engage with Chatty Cathy without overwhelming your schedule, leveraging rental management software with customizable, automated email capabilities is a great strategy.

This technology utilizes shortcodes that automatically insert personalized details such as Cathy’s name, previous purchase details, or other preferences into emails. These shortcodes draw data from the customer’s profile, allowing you to compose messages that feel personalized and direct without the need for manual input for each communication.

When interacting with Cathy in person, actively listen to her during conversations, show genuine interest in her stories, and engage warmly to create a positive and memorable experience. By focusing on these personalized touches, you can build a strong rapport with Cathy, encouraging her loyalty and satisfaction.

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8. Difficult Dave

Difficult Dave can be tough to handle because he tends to be rude and combative, making him a challenging and difficult customer. Interacting with him can quickly become stressful as he may escalate situations at the slightest provocation.

Dave’s tough exterior often masks a deep need to feel respected and heard. Like anyone, Dave wants his concerns to be taken seriously, but his approach can make it hard for others to see that. His combative nature may stem from past frustrations or negative experiences, which can cause him to anticipate conflicts even where none exist. Understanding this background can be key to managing interactions with him effectively. By recognizing that his rudeness is likely a defense mechanism, you can better navigate conversations and address his concerns more constructively.

What Frustrates Difficult Dave

Difficult Dave often becomes frustrated when he feels ignored or when his concerns are not addressed quickly. If he doesn’t get an immediate response, he might see it as negligence or disinterest, which can make him even more combative. Dave needs to know that his issues are a priority; otherwise, he feels undervalued.

Dave needs to know his issues are a priority; otherwise, he feels undervalued. He also gets more frustrated if he thinks you’re not being sincere or if you’re just trying to calm him down without really solving his problems. He values honest communication, and anything less makes him feel dismissed.

Dave’s combative nature gets worse when interactions don’t focus on solving his problems. If he thinks his concerns are being brushed off or not taken seriously, he can become even more difficult. He needs quick, clear responses that show you’re really trying to fix his issues.

How To Work Well With Difficult Dave

When dealing with Difficult Dave, it’s crucial to remain calm and maintain professionalism, regardless of his tone.

  • Address Dave’s concerns with empathy, letting him know you understand his frustration. At the same time, be assertive in your responses, clearly explaining what you can do to resolve his issues.
  • One of the most important things you can do is listen carefully to Dave’s issues. Show that you are paying attention by nodding, repeating what he says, and asking clarifying questions. This helps him feel heard and respected.
  • Focus on finding solutions to Dave’s problems. Be proactive in addressing his concerns and offer clear, actionable steps to resolve them. Showing that you are dedicated to fixing the issue can help calm him down.

By implementing these strategies, you can manage Dave’s difficult behavior more effectively and turn a potentially negative interaction into a positive, constructive one. Showing genuine interest in resolving his problems and maintaining a professional demeanor can help build a better relationship with Difficult Dave.


By familiarizing yourself with these personality types, you can anticipate and cater to the needs of your customers before issues arise. Through tailored approaches, proactive communication, and a genuine commitment to exceptional service, you can navigate difficult customer interactions and create positive experiences for all.

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How To Diffuse a Tense Situation w/ Examples

Diffusing tense situations with angry customers is an essential skill for any business owner. It’s important to remember that when a customer becomes irate, it’s usually not about you personally. Empathy is key in understanding their frustration and finding a resolution. Here are four strategies for handling difficult customers, along with examples of how to put them into practice:

  1. Don’t take it personally: Keep in mind that the customer’s anger is typically not directed at you personally. Consider their perspective, why they’re upset, and what might be causing their reaction. For example, if a customer is dissatisfied with a delayed delivery, acknowledge their frustration and explain that you understand the inconvenience they’ve experienced.
  2. Shut up and listen: Angry customers may not be ready to listen, so it’s crucial to let them express their concerns. Give them the space to vent and to regulate their own emotions. Once they’ve had an opportunity to voice their grievances, you can offer an apology and work towards a solution. For instance, if a customer is upset about a billing error, actively listen to their concerns without interrupting and provide reassurance that you’ll investigate the issue.
  3. Repeat the problem back to the customer: Mirroring the customer’s concerns demonstrates that you are actively listening. By restating their problem, you show that you understand their point of view. For example, if a customer is frustrated about a faulty product, you can say, “I understand that you’re upset because the product you received isn’t functioning properly. We want to make this right for you.”
  4. Be sincere: Remember that customers are human beings who can sense insincerity. Express gratitude for the customer’s feedback and assure them that you genuinely care about their satisfaction. Let them know that you’re committed to resolving the issue. For instance, say, “Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused, and we are fully dedicated to resolving this for you.”

Once the customer has calmed down, it’s important to work together to find a solution. Break down their concerns and ask questions to gain a clear understanding of their needs. Offer actionable steps that can be taken to address their issues, breaking them down into manageable tasks. By doing so, you build trust with the customer and demonstrate your commitment to exceeding their expectations.

Remember, effectively handling tense situations can lead to the most satisfied customers. By listening attentively and addressing their concerns with grace and empathy, you show customers that you value their feedback and are willing to take the necessary steps to rectify any mistakes. This fosters trust and strengthens your relationship with them, ultimately driving customer loyalty and long-term success.

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Best Practices in Dealing with Difficult Customers

When it comes to dealing with difficult customers, implementing best practices can significantly enhance their experience and strengthen your business.

Ensure open lines of communication with your customers. Respond promptly to inquiries, provide clear and concise information, and address any concerns or issues they may have. Utilize various channels such as phone, email, and social media to accommodate different customer preferences.

It is important to practice empathy when interacting with customers. Listen attentively to their needs, concerns, and feedback. Show genuine understanding and concern, making them feel valued and heard. This approach helps build trust and establishes a positive rapport with customers. Tailoring interactions, such as emails, to each customer makes them feel valued as individuals. Use their names in conversations, remember past interactions or preferences, and offer personalized recommendations or solutions.

When you talk to customers, encourage them to provide feedback on their experiences. Regularly collect and analyze feedback to identify areas for improvement. Then, actively implement changes based on customer suggestions to enhance your products, services, and overall customer experience. Strive for consistency in delivering your products or services and set high standards for quality, reliability, and professionalism across all customer touchpoints. This builds trust and fosters loyalty among your customers.

Consider investing in a rental management software that will streamline your operations and make the above best practices automatic, which will save your business time and money on implementing automated systems that will provide your customer with a consistent and reliable experience. With features like online bookings, automated notifications, and streamlined payments, customers can enjoy a convenient and user-friendly rental experience. Learn more about how to automate your rental business here.

By incorporating these best practices, you can create a customer-centric culture and provide exceptional experiences. Investing in rental management software further enhances your ability to streamline operations, reduce administrative burden, and offer a smoother, more efficient rental process for your customers. Ultimately, these efforts contribute to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and business growth.

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“Break Up” with Difficult Customers BEFORE You Commit

In the realm of customer service, we strive to satisfy every customer and maintain long-term partnerships. But there are instances when the differences with a difficult customer become irreconcilable, and it’s time to consider parting ways. Ideally, you want to handle the pain of a break-up before a contract is signed and you have agreed to take on an order. No one likes to be strung along, right? 

So, before you accept an order, make sure that you evaluate whether the customer is actually a good fit for your business. Can you complete the order to the standards that the customer desires? Recognizing a good fit for your business is crucial in ensuring the best outcomes for both parties involved. Carefully evaluate the customer’s needs and expectations against your business’s capabilities. Realistically assess whether you can meet or exceed those needs. Trust your instincts; if you’re uncertain about your ability to fulfill their requirements, it’s essential to be honest and transparent. Declining an order or project that doesn’t align with your expertise or resources is a responsible decision that saves everyone time and frustration.

To protect your business’s reputation if you must decline a customer’s order, approach the situation with empathy and tact. Communicate openly and honestly with the customer, expressing your understanding of their needs. Highlight that your decision is based on what is best for both parties in the long run. Offer any possible alternatives or referrals that may better suit their needs. By demonstrating professionalism and empathy, you minimize the risk of negative word-of-mouth and maintain your reputation as a business that values customer satisfaction.

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FAQs About Dealing with Difficult Customers

When dealing with a difficult customer, it’s crucial to remain calm and maintain professionalism. Show that you are paying attention to the customer by nodding, repeating back what they say, and asking clarifying questions. Focus on finding solutions to the customer’s problems. Offer clear, actionable steps to resolve them. Showing that you are dedicated to fixing the issue can help calm the customer down.


Remain calm and listen to the client’s issues so they feel heard. Then give specific reasons why you don’t think your company is the best fit for their requirements and make a recommendation to another rental company.

Don’t react and get emotionally involved. Remain calm and truly listen to the issue. Always treat the customer with kindness and respect. Don’t speak until they are finished airing their grievances then repeat it back to them so they know you understand. Offer a solution or ask them how they think it could be resolved. The customer wants to be heard and feel like they matter and you can do that by working with them to solve the issue.