You know who they are: Vague customers that can’t make up their minds, who seem to have all day to take up your time; pushy customers whose demands can’t be met, who angrily demand ‘What? It’s not ready yet?’ Whining customers for whom nothing is right, who can find something wrong with everything in sight!

But you don’t have to let them drive you to distraction! What’s needed for your mission of service excellence is direction! Here, then, are the maps and keys to keep you heading down the road of service.

Customers care more about service today than ever before. Studies show that when a business loses customers, the vast majority leave because they feel the salesperson or service provider is disinterested or indifferent.
Key: When you show you care, you stay in business!

Paradoxically, most customers won’t tell you when they have a problem with your service. Out of 100 unhappy customers, only a few will bother to complain. Yet for each complaint that you hear, there are many people with a similar problem who didn't tell you about it.
Key: When you listen to complaints, you gain valuable feedback!

Unhappy customers tell their friends and associates what they won’t tell you! That ‘word-of-mouth’ advertising can poison the community against you! Research shows that customers tell only a few friends about a great experience. But if it’s a bad experience, they can go on a campaign to put your business out of business, by embellishing and telling their sorry tale to anyone who will listen.
Key: When you ask for feedback, you’re more likely to get it!

Customers tend to carry over their bad experiences from one type of business to another. Translation: A bad day at the office or grocery store may produce hypersensitivity when they pick up the car at your service bay!
Key: When you don’t take it personally, you can provide better service!

Thoughtless challenges to negative customers tend to provoke them to more of the same. If you want to have a positive influence instead, thoughtful responses are required. While this isn’t always the easiest thing to do when someone is acting like a jerk, it is almost always in your interest.
Key: Give your customers the benefit of the doubt

Your customers want to know “Are you with me or not?” And you can let them know by noticing and reducing these communication differences. Fast talking people enjoy the race, slow talking people prefer an easy pace. Keep your voice down with quiet customers. Speak up with loud ones! If you fail to reduce these differences, you will probably end up talking to yourself!
Key : Reduce differences to gain cooperation

When customers talk, they want feedback that they’ve been heard, and they also want to be understood. Listening is often the fastest way to identify and then solve a problem. This is true when they don’t speak up, and even when they don’t understand themselves.
Key: Customers want to be heard and understood!

If you typically have a knee-jerk reaction to ‘unfair’ criticism, perhaps you’ve noticed that defending yourself usually makes things worse. Here’s a simple shortcut to rapidly bring criticism to a stop: A simple “Thanks for being honest” is all that it takes, and it’s over. It may be hard to keep that knee down, but in exchange for some critical appreciation, they’ll give you a license to drive.
Key: Appreciate criticism and your customers will turn around!

A customer called a travel agency to book some travel. But the agent was incompetent, and the customer had other things to do. As nicely as he could, he asked to be transferred. With sobbing in the background, the next agent demanded of the customer, “What did you say to her? You’ve really upset her!!” That was when the customer clarified the relationship: “You’re confused,” declared the customer. “She’s overhead, I’m profit!“

When you step up to meet the challenge of challenging customers, you improve your service for all of your customers. So show some appreciation for the opportunity your challenging customers present, and start asking and listening today!

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Rick Kirschner has helped millions improve their communication skills and have better relationships and careers. He is co-author of the classic, Dealing with People You Can’t Stand, and co-creator of the all-time bestselling audio and video program, How to Deal with Difficult People. His new book How to Click With People (July 2011) reveals the secret to better relationships in business and in life. For a free one-hour audio on Difficult People, visit: