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a blog by Don R. Crawley

Keynote Speaker on
IT Customer Service and Compassion

Bringing humanity into the world of technology

CALL: (206) 988-5858


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Dealing with difficult customers is expected in IT. It’s your job to remain a friendly professional. Sometimes that’s easier said than done. Having a few strategic tricks up your sleeve makes all the difference between de-escalating an agitated client and causing the interaction to spiral out of control. Here are the customer service training tips you need to successfully serve a difficult customer.

Tips for Handling Difficult Customers

Stay Calm. You can’t control how you feel on the inside, but you can control your outer response through your behavior choices. Always remain calm and professional when dealing with a difficult customer. Use a non-threatening tone of voice and speak using objective, fact-based language. Don’t get defensive or try to convince the customer they shouldn’t be upset, but offer assurances that your goal is to help them solve their problem.

Don’t Interrupt. Let your customers fully describe their problem and explain why they are frustrated. Don’t interrupt, even if you have legitimate technical questions or need clarification to solve their problem. Interrupting your customers gives them the impression you aren’t fully listening and contributes to defensiveness. Give the customer time to talk and then ask clarifying questions once they are finished.

Stay Positive. Focus on what you can do to solve the customer’s technical issue(s) rather than what you can’t do. They contacted you to get their technical issue solved, and a detailed explanation of why you can’t help isn’t going to de-escalate their agitation. Get creative with your problem-solving and offer the customer alternative choices if you can’t give them the exact solution they’re seeking. Focus on understanding the business reasons for their request.

Conclude with Thanks. At the end of your interaction, thank the customer for bringing the technical issue to your attention and giving you the opportunity to solve it. This ends the conversation on a positive note rather than a tenuous one.

Take a Break: It’s natural to feel worked up after an interaction with a difficult customer. Your body has an innate physiological response to aggression. Symptoms can include increased heart rate, raised blood pressure, and an accelerated breath rate. You may also feel tense and agitated. It takes about twenty minutes for these symptoms to subside, so take some time following an intense interaction before jumping into the next work task. Take deep breaths, enjoy a short walk, or stand and stretch while your body calms down.

Debrief: You don’t have to bear the brunt of a customer’s anger alone. Debrief with a supervisor or coworker after your interaction to share the burden. They may also give you feedback on how you handled the situation, which helps you to improve the next time you come across a difficult customer.

Customer Service Training for IT Professionals

Exceptional customer service skills are essential for today’s IT professional. Compassionate Geek’s online and onsite customer service training programs are designed specifically for IT professionals to gain the interpersonal skills necessary to succeed in today’s competitive tech industry. See how customer service training complements your technical skills to take your career to the next level. Check out our online training options today!

The Fundamentals of IT Customer Service CTA


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