5 Kinds of Irritating Customers and How to Deal with Them Appropriately

5 Kinds of Irritating Customers and How to Handle Them with Appropriate Customer Service

No matter what kind of business you own, you’re apt to run into some difficult or irritating customers.

Don’t get us wrong, every customer is important, and great customer service is essential to retaining customers. After all, your business wouldn’t be where it is today without them, but there are some customers who can really push your buttons. (We know you’re nodding in agreement).

Since 70% of customers’ say their buying experience is based on how they feel they’re being treated, it’s important to know how to handle these boundary-pushing consumers.

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Here’s a look at five of the most irritating kinds of customers, and advice on how to handle them:

1. Susie the Cell Phone User and/or Laptop Lingerer 

Susie’s convinced she can multitask while checking out. Somehow, during the five minutes that it takes for the cashier to scan her items, she’s sent 10 texts and made a call to her BFF.

Cell phones are everywhere, that much is obvious. What does the research say? 84% of worldwide cell phone users can’t go a single day without it. As cell phone use has been on the rise, etiquette has also plummeted.

How to deal with it: You have two options here. Your first option is to kill them with kindness. Check Susie out just as you would any other customer, and try to move her along without making the cell phone use a big deal.

Option two is a bit more drastic. Some businesses have actually posted signs at their checkout urging shoppers to ditch their phones while paying. Some have also done this to address long laptop usage at tables – They’ve dedicated computer-free zones (complete with signage) in certain sections during busy hours to freely move customers in and out.

2. Bob the Barker

Have you ever met a dog that barks at everything? There could be a fly on the ceiling or the zombie apocalypse is happening, and that dog will bark just as hard and loud at both. Well, some customers are like that too.

Bob the barker always has something to complain about, and someone is going to hear about it.

Maybe he believes his cup of coffee is too hot, he waited in line too long or is unhappy that the toilet paper in the men’s room is over the roll not under it. Bottom line? He’s not happy, and he needs to let you know.

How to deal with it: Do what you can to accommodate his complaint within reason. If his coffee is too hot, add an ice cube. If he’s bothered by wait time or toilet paper orientation, thank him for bringing the problem to your attention, and let him know that you’ll look into a resolution.

3. Linda the Leering Line Waiter

No matter how fast your checkout line moves, it’s not fast enough for Linda. She’s the type that’s constantly looking at her watch, tapping her foot and leering at the cashier with disgust.

How to deal with it: When it’s Linda’s turn, thank her for her patience, check her out and send her on her way. Again, it’s best to take the high road here, even though your employees may want to say, “You were in line for all of two minutes, Lady, calm down.”

4. Gail the Gabster

You’ve met Gail, right? She’s the woman that comes in every week and talks your ear off about her grandkids, the weather and her latest recipe creation.

She can gab with the best of them. She might even break out her ‘new-fangled iPhone’ that her grandkids got her and attempt to show you pictures. She’s sweet and means well, but sometimes eats up too much of your time.

How to deal with it: Gail is a regular, so it’s important to take a few minutes out of your day to talk with her. Customers want personalized service, so despite your instincts to run the other way when you see her, take a breath and indulge her. After a few minutes, tell her it was nice catching up with her, but you need to get back to work.

5. Umar the Undecided

No matter how long Umar has to look at a menu, paper supplies or lawn fertilizer, he can’t make up his mind. He finds even the simplest of decisions overwhelming, and will ask a lot of questions about whatever product he’s considering.

What kind of coffee beans do you use in your house blend? What’s the difference between a gel pen and rollerball? Which fertilizer gives me the greenest lawn?

While business owners applaud consumers that do their research, at some point, a decision must be made.

How to deal with it: Train employees to answer questions accurately, but succinctly. If Umar still has a hard time making a decision, give him a specific suggestion.

For instance, tell him that most people pick Scott’s Lawn Fertilizer because it offers the best coverage for the money. Ambiguous answers won’t help the Umar’s of the world make a decision.

If Umar holds up a line, ask another employee to step in an open another register, if possible.

What kind of irritating customers do you deal with in your business? Tell us how you handle them in the comment section below.

Lisa Furgison
About the Author
Lisa Furgison

Lisa is a writer at Fivestars, a freelance journalist, and co-owner of a media company, McEwen's Media.

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