“96% of unhappy customers don’t complain; however, 91% of those will simply leave and never come back.”
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When you’re dealing with all of the challenges and complications that come with running a rental business in 2023, the last thing you want to deal with is a huffy customer blowing up your phone. Whether you’ve barely finished your coffee or you’re in the depths of a stack of paperwork, heck, you may be rearing and ready go to tackle the day! It is still never a good time to deal with an irate customer. It can be difficult to understand why customers become angry, and a natural first reaction is frustration.

For some business owners, the knee jerk reaction may be to “break up” with the customer and accept the losses that come with it. But hastily cutting ties with a difficult customer can have disastrous consequences; it can hurt your business’s reputation if it is done too often. Unhappy customers talk, and according to research, one dissatisfied customer may spread negative word to more than 15 other potential customers. When you have the skills to remedy a difficult situation, an unhappy customer can quickly turn into a long-term, beneficial partnership for both parties.

What if I told you that you can successfully satisfy and retain difficult clients all while setting healthy boundaries for yourself and your teams? It’s all in approaching your customer service proactively and investing in tools that will help your teams give customers an amazing experience.

In this article, we’ll discuss the different personality archetypes of difficult customers, how to effectively communicate with them, and how you can take steps to prevent issues before they arise. Then, we’ll discuss general best practices for dealing with all kinds of customers. And, yes, we’ll even discuss when it is appropriate, and necessary, to cut ties with a customer.

8 Customer Personality Archetypes

Dealing with difficult customers is an art and a science, as each customer brings their unique set of challenges. Some difficult customers can be identified as soon as they walk through your door, but others may not show their true nature until unexpected circumstances arise. And some customers give Jekyll and Hyde a run for their money when they’re sweet as pie… until they don’t get their way.

Surprisingly, not all difficult customers are loud or demanding. There are several other personality types that you want to look out for and get ahead of to create an exceptional experience for all of your customers, no matter what difficulties you encounter. In fact, it is entirely possible to spot a difficult customer BEFORE they become difficult, and avoid uncomfortable confrontations by adjusting your service to fit the customer’s needs.

So, how do you spot and deal with difficult customers before problems arise? Consider understanding the following personality archetypes and how they generally prefer to be serviced:

Woman using party entertainment rental reservation software
  1. Methodical Maria: Analytical and well-informed, she craves detailed information. She wants all the facts, figures, and specifics before making decisions. Providing thorough explanations and addressing her questions in depth will help satisfy her need for detailed information. When servicing a Methodical Maria, you want to make sure to provide a detailed invoice with a breakdown of all the costs associated with the order. Methodical Maria is a stickler for paperwork, and it is essential to ensure that all documentation handed to her is up-to-date and easy to read. When you prioritize honesty and transparency in your service, you will exceed her expectations.
Woman using best party rental software
  1. Creative Claire: She is an event planner, and she is constantly striving to bring her vision to life. She appreciates having numerous choices and a beautiful presentation to select from. Consider investing in a rental software, like TapGoods, that offers proposals, which are documents that allow you to showcase your products and give inspiration to potential customers. Offering a diverse range of options and showcasing your products or services with creativity and aesthetics will leave a lasting impression on Creative Claire.
Woman using rental management software
  1. Commanding Charlotte: Commanding Charlotte values competence and swift service. She is focused on achieving her mission and desires a seamless and convenient experience. She is not interested in lengthy email exchanges, and values efficiency overall. Consider investing in a rental management software that offers an inventory integrated shop that allows customers to create and submit their own orders. The efficiency offered in creating and submitting orders independently empowers Commanding Charlotte types, and gives you a leg up over competing companies that do not offer the ability to self-service. Investing in automation software and promptly responding to Commanding Charlotte with your expertise will exceed her expectations.
Irritated man using rental management software
  1. Last Minute Larry: He seeks quick answers and convenience in completing his orders. He prefers streamlined processes and rapid responses to his inquiries. Being readily available and offering solutions that expedite his experience will earn his appreciation. When it is not possible to answer Last Minute Larry’s constant email stream, consider investing in a rental management software that will automate emails such as order confirmations, payment notifications, and order updates. When you proactively keep Larry informed, he will feel secure in his order’s progress, and he will be satisfied.
Confused woman using event rental inventory software
  1. Confused Carol: Indecisive and inquisitive, Confused Carol often seeks guidance and education to overcome her uncertainty. She asks numerous questions and requires patient explanations to gain clarity. 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. When you interact with her, offering informative guidance and support throughout her decision-making process will help alleviate her confusion. Consider following up conversations with Confused Carol with an email that reviews what you discussed with her, so that she can review that email if she needs a refresher.
Stressed woman using equipment rental software
  1. Bargain Betty: Bargain Betty is on the lookout for a deal. She is price-sensitive and wants to feel that she’s getting the best value for her money. Like Methodical Maria, you’ll want to carefully document and break down your costs and value of services to Bargain Betty. Emphasize the quality of your services and how you gauge your prices. Offering competitive pricing, discounts, or loyalty programs can entice Bargain Betty to choose your business over others.
Happy woman using best software for rental business
  1. Chatty Cathy: Chatty Cathy enjoys engaging in conversation and sharing stories. When considering a rental management software, it’s essential to select a platform that offers customizable, automatic emails. This feature allows you to tailor personalized messages for your customers. Chatty Cathy will appreciate receiving emails that address her by name and make her feel remembered. By actively listening, engaging in friendly conversations, and demonstrating genuine interest, you can create a lasting impression that will resonate with Chatty Cathy.
Man using rental software for AV and event companies
  1. Difficult Dave: Difficult Dave can be rude and combative, making interactions challenging. When dealing with Difficult Dave, it’s important to remain calm, maintain professionalism, and address his concerns with empathy and assertiveness. When you deal with Difficult Dave, remember not to take his tone personally, and listen to the issues he brings to the table. Difficult Dave archetypes crave being heard, and it is important to take a solution-first approach to interactions with with this archetype.

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

Identify the customer personality type so you understand their motivation for being difficult. Remain calm and listen. Repeat the problem back to the customer until they are satisfied that you understand their issue. Be sincere in your response and look for a solution.

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.