Dealing With Difficult Customers When You Know They are Dead Wrong

Customer Service

How to Handle Difficult Customers When You KNOW They are Dead Wrong…

Throughout my career as a speaker, consultant, and customer service trainer, I’ve heard a multitude of war stories about challenging customer service situations. Let’s face it. Many customers challenge and argue with us even when they are dead wrong. Some  lie.  Some just love to give people a hard time. Some just want to “try” you. We’ve all experienced these situations in customer service scenarios.

Typical Examples of Difficult Customer Situations:

The customer receives an invoice and throws a fit knowing they agreed to pay overtime or pay shipping and denies it.

They say there’s something wrong with a product, when, in fact, they broke it, or tinkered with something themselves and caused it to fail.

They “stretch the truth” about what their salesperson promised them.

They wear a dress to a wedding for one night, then return it saying it was never worn.

They say they talked to someone on the phone or in the store and were told something would be free.

The list of examples could go on and on.

How Communicate With Customers When They Are Dead Wrong

Each customer service situation is different and each business has its own policies and procedures to handle these things, but you still need to communicate effectively.

To assist you in such situations, apply the communication techniques below.

First, say, “Okay!” (Say it in an upbeat manner.) This can often diffuse the situation from the get-go.

“John, I reviewed the invoice thoroughly, and it’s correct. Let’s recheck the invoice together and I’ll explain the charges.”

“Perhaps you’re correct. That’s not the information I have.” “You may be correct. If so, I’ll the first person to say so.”

“Mr. Smith, we did tell you for that specific product, it may take about three days for us to ship.”

“Mr. Customer, we sent a letter after your purchase explaining what the warranty covers and what it does not cover. If you will review it, you will find that we were clear about this. Can we review it together?”

“As much as I want you to be a happy customer, and I’d like to about to tell you I can do this for you, I can’t.”

“If the salesman promised that to you, I’ll have to discuss it with him. We have never promised this in the past.”

“Mr. Jones. We’ve been doing business for twenty years. We have loyal customers and our business is growing. That’s because we believe in honesty and integrity. We would never ‘rip off’ a customer.”

When All Else Fails:

Decide if you should give in a little just to keep the customer. This holds true even when you know from the bottom of your toes that you are right, or when the customer is lying. When you do, your blood pressure may go up,  but you have to keep the customer happy to the best of your ability.

Sometimes, you have to decide if you want to stick to your guns and risk the possibility of losing the customer. Sometimes, you have to fire a customer because it’s just not worth the hassle. As I said, each situation is different. No one can afford to lose a customer, but you must decide how to proceed.

Remember Nordstrom’s Two Rules:

1. The customer is always right.
2. When the customer is wrong, refer to Rule # 1.

Consider This Quote from My Customer Service Training Program:

“The Customer is Always Right? Wrong!  The Customer is Still the Customer. There is No Right or Wrong.”

In all difficult customer situations, you must come across professionally, and never brash or defensively. When you have to communicate with customers who are dead wrong – Remember to BREATHE!

Need customized customer service training on Dealing With Difficult Customers and Situations?  Call (847) 477 7376 or

About Christine Corelli

Christine Corelli is a motivational, keynote, business, leadership, sales, and customer service speaker, sales trainer, and author of six business books. As a keynote speaker, she is known for her high energy and interactive speaking style.

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