20 Strategies To Convert A Difficult Customer Into A Loyal Customer

October 19, 2016

Every business has difficult customers. They're the ones who give owners headaches and create long days for employees. Businesses can't escape them, but businesses need customers. So, what is a business to do with those difficult customers? One tactic that is an easy one, perhaps, is just to get rid of the difficult ones. While achieving one objective, purging a business of undesirable customers can lead to negative effects of decreased revenue and damaging comments. 

Turning A Dissatisfied Customer Into A Satisfied Customer

An alternative approach is figuring out how difficult customers can be converted into satisfied customers. Considering that it is significantly more expensive to market and acquire new customers than it is to retain existing customers, it is prudent for businesses to try the following 20 strategies (not in any particular order of importance) to handle and convert problematic customers into easygoing, loyal ones.

1. When things go wrong, apologize.

2. Be quick to listen and slow to speak.

3. Sympathize and understand the customer's situation.

4. Make sure you understand the customer's problem.

5. Make sure the customer understands what he or she purchased.

6. Ask the customer what you can do to remedy the situation.

7. Take the attitude that you're there to help.

8. Don't be defensive...let the customer rant and rave until he's worn out.

9. Remember, you might be right, the customer might be right, or you both might be wrong.

10. Gently guide the customer to see your side (if you think you're right).

11. Be kind, be kind, be kind...don't antagonize.

12. Make a concession...offer a refund, discount, or something extra to appease the customer.

13. Be soft-spoken and choose your words wisely.

14. Thank the customer for coming to you. They could have just bad-mouthed your business instead. 

15. Handle the situation better than you think your competition would handle it.

16. Understand that the customer's anger is not directed at you as an individual.

17. Be flexible with customer demands.

18. Respond quickly to a customer's inquiry or request to solve a problem.

19. Make the customer or problem the focal point of the conversation.

20. End the conversation on a pleasant note. Let the customer know how much his or her business is appreciated.

It's Worth The Effort

There is no exact number, but most sources consider the cost of acquiring a new customer is between four and seven times the cost of retaining an existing customer. Some studies depending on the industry estimate the cost of acquisition even higher. Additionally, it is known that existing customers spend more with a business than new customers do. 

So, it is worth the effort to retain existing customers. Although the first option of how to deal with difficult customers might be to "fire them," this is not the most beneficial choice in terms of profit and long-term growth. Businesses should work on strategies to convert and retain, if at all possible, difficult customers. It is not enough, however, for a business to state that a company goal is optimum customer retention. Employees must be trained on exactly how to deal with dissatisfied customers. Practice the above 20 strategies of converting a difficult customer into a loyal customer and watch your customer retention grow.