It can be tough to deal with difficult customers, especially if you don’t have much experience with them. 

How to Deal with Difficult Customers

For a small business owner, it can feel like a direct attack on your business and your reputation when customers complain, get upset, or leave a bad review.

But there is a way to deal with difficult customers no matter what the reason, and that is to have a plan.

You need a plan that will help you reach a positive outcome, but first, you must determine why they’re angry.

Here are the 5 main reasons customers get upset and tips to handle each situation: 

1. The Customer Doesn’t Understand Your Business

The frustration a customer feels often arises out of a misunderstanding.

Your policies may be unclear or difficult to find. Or, even if you are clear, there’s still a chance they just don’t understand what you are trying to communicate.

The result? You don’t meet their expectations, and they come to you angry and upset.

Ever try to return something only to find their policy doesn’t allow for your return. Yikes. This is a clear example of a policy issue.

How to deal with this:

When this happens, listen to the customer and apologize, and then explain the policy in detail to clear up any misunderstanding.

You may also want to update your content or put it someplace that is easier to find.

2. The Customer Thinks the Price Is High

No matter how reasonable your pricing, there will always be people who complain.

Their finances could be strained, or they don’t understand what you’re offering, and this makes them feel like you’re charging too much.

This is one thing that Sean complains about with restaurants: charging for condiments.

He thinks that it’s better to charge a little more than to nickel and dime a customer over a side of ranch. What do you think?

How to deal with this:

If you’ve done your market research and set a reasonable price, there’s a chance you haven’t emphasized the benefits enough.

Focus on communicating the unique value you offer. You may also consider giving them added value or overdelivering in some other way to send them away satisfied.

3. Poor Customer Service

It could be that your products and services are meeting people’s needs, but your customer service is lacking.

Customers may complain because your support was too slow or insufficient. The cause could also be a lack of staff training.

I’m sure you’ve dealt with this issue yourself many times; from the one cashier with a backed-up line at the grocery store or the impossible to track down the server at a restaurant, this is a very common issue.

How to deal with this:

If this is the case, apologize and offer something that will make it better. Listen to them and see if there are any improvements you can make.

4. Some People Just Like to Complain

It’s a simple truth that some people are complainers. They’re very sensitive and vocal, and they’re good at getting what they want by complaining.

They may be genuinely unhappy with your product or service, or there could be something else going on in their lives, and they’re taking it out on you.

I’ve seen a few people that are like this, and without fail, they would complain no matter what the service or where we were at, and they were a master at getting what they wanted.

If you have one of these friends or family members you know, there is no way to make them happy.

How to deal with this:

The solution is to employ active listening and give them a chance to vent. You can also ask them for specific feedback on improvements you can make.

This will show them that you care about them and defuse their anger, even if you know they will never be satisfied.

5. Dealing with A Troll

Some difficult customers are just trolls, and they’re giving you a hard time. It has nothing to do with your products or business policies.

These difficult customers are very popular online, where they can hide under the mask of anonymity, and they’re easy to spot.

They are usually wildly inaccurate, inappropriate, or impossible to calm.

How to deal with this:

If you find that you’re dealing with someone like this, don’t match their aggressiveness or negativity. Stay calm, apologize, offer to make good, and end the encounter as soon as possible.

If you can’t get any specific reasons for their anger, there’s not much you can do for them.

How to Deal with Difficult Customers

As you can see, having a plan for difficult customers and knowing their reason for complaining can help you deal with the situation and improve your business at the same time.

Want to know the best way to respond to bad reviews? Check this out.

If you're ready to grow your business with smart marketing you can:

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3. Learn Digital Marketing with a Smart Marketing Course


Torie Mathis | Learn Digital Marketing - imageTorie Mathis helps entrepreneurs grow their business with Smart Marketing.  She is a best-selling author, Army veteran, international speaker + trainer, and the CEO + Creative Director at Lake Shark Media. She also teaches entrepreneurs how to get smart with digital marketing at


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Torie Mathis | Learn Digital Marketing - image

I help solopreneurs & biz owners (like you) use digital marketing to get more clients + make more money without a big budget, a lot of time, or losing your sanity. And I make it easy! 

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