How to Deal With a Difficult Customer

Negosentro Defuse-a-Situation-With-a Difficult Customer

by Anton Padua, |

Have you met someone who is unreasonably rude, conceited, pathetic and does not know the meaning of patience and understanding?  Well, at some point in our lives, we may have heard horrible stories or have actually met for real “Ms. Antipatika” or “Mr. Brusko”. I remember this movie, The Devil Wears Prada where Meryl Streep played the role of a “devil” boss who would terrorize people in the office. She could actually be mean even by just staring at her staff!

I also have my own share of stories of a terror boss at some point in my corporate career. This boss of mine would shout during meetings or utter those restricted words at the start and at the end of his sentence. When you have a boss like that, you really have no choice but just to say “yes sir!” when asked, even if you actually meant “no sir!”. When you have a “terror” boss who presides a meeting, you would actually wish that the presentation ends right there and then. It is difficult but you need to endure!

When you are in business offering a service, chances are, you may be dealing with customers who could be overly critical even on small, petty things. But how can we really deal with them? Here are some tips on how to deal with a difficult customer:

Need to Have a Paradigm Shift

The first thing that we should bear in mind when we are in business is to have a change in perspective and attitude towards our customers.  We have to deal with our customers with a lot of patience and understanding.  We are lucky at Bake and Brew because we always have friendly, kind and understanding customers.  We have been friends to many of them and have built that kind of personal dealings with them.

However, when faced with customers who are overly critical and to the extent of being rude, we still have to deal with them with tact and patience.

We appreciate and get inspiration from people who are simply nice, kind and sensitive to the feelings of others. Our normal reaction when we meet people who are conceited and does not know the value of patience and respect is to deal with them the way they behave towards us. My lesson from the seminar on “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” tells me to behave the way our values and beliefs have asked us to and not to behave the way others dictate us to.  Our environment and the people around us should not dictate us as to how to react to certain things because if we do, then we are slowly falling away from our own values. So the next time someone comes up to you trying to test your patience, be smart not to fall in prey. Have self-control, restraint and exercise maximum tolerance.

In a situation where you are faced by a terror boss who still decides on your salary increase and promotion or an overbearing customer who still buys your products just the same, always exercise maximum tolerance. Patience is a virtue and anyone who exercises patience has a reward.

Set the Tone and Be Conscious About the Reward

When you are in business, you are mandated to offer good service.  Competition is part of doing business and you can overcome competition if you can offer better service than the rest. Your customers are your walking advertisements so when they encounter good things about you, they will surely say something good about your shop to others.

When I am in the shop, I make sure that I greet incoming guests even if I am busy with something else. Our staff would make sure everyone coming in is welcome to the shop.  Customers would always remember their encounters in your shop and it sets a good tone of a warm, homey ambiance and will significantly set a positive and cheerful ambiance if you are friendly with your guests. There are customers who would sometimes come to the shop whom upon greeting them would not respond, perhaps because they may just be too shy to acknowledge your greeting or may just have a bad day but it does not give us shop owners the excuse not to greet guests.  So we have to be kind even to the unkind, pleasant even to those who are unpleasant and nice even to those who are not nice.

I think we can prevent customers from being rude if we set the tone in the first place. No matter how gloomy the day is for some but if they are greeted cheerfully upon entry to the shop, then they may be infected by the positive vibrations in the shop and would tone down with their unpleasant behavior.

We have trained our staff to always greet our guests upon entry and thanking them when leaving. In this way, we impart warmth and hospitality. I think this is very important for customers to have that feeling that we value them because this is the same story and feeling that they will carry with them in talking to others. So subconsciously, you are using this behavior to impart good things about your shop!

Easier Said Than Done

For those who condone bad behavior, they may say that to be patient with a rude customer is easier said than done. Yes, I agree! In fact, the main reason why it took me three long weeks to complete this article (the last article I wrote was three weeks ago and was supposed to have an article every week) is that I am having difficulty reconciling my values to that expectation of being a patient and a restraint shop owner.

I have decided to be in this business and it is my intention to always protect the interest of the shop and so I always have to be conscious now, behave and think not just like any other ordinary neighbor but someone expected to be nice at all times to everyone regardless of sex, gender, social status and beliefs in life! Moreover, I realized that people who behave unreasonably is not accountable to me but to God, the same way that I am accountable for my behavior not to other people but also to God!

So be kind, patient and understanding and God will smile at you at all times!!

And so I say again, may the force be always with us! Til next time guys!

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 Author Bio

anton padua

Anton Padua is a Manila-based entrepreneur who manages a successful community coffee shop south of the metro named Bake and Brew. His day job as Supply Chain Manager for a diversified conglomerate helps him get more on-ground entrepreneurial insights from SMEs.

For weekly tips and insights on entrepreneurship, follow Anton on this page.

You can also email him at:

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