What is a difficult customer? Is it someone that is easily upset? Someone that is not particularly bright?
No, a difficult customer is simply someone that did not have their needs met within your company. Yes, people can be difficult. Many customers act irrationally, or respond to things in ways that are upsetting and unfair. But behind every single upset customer is someone that needed something they didn’t get.
Behavioral Interview Question: Tell me about the most difficult internal or external customer you have had to deal with. What were they difficult? How did you handle it?
Because something is missing from the customer, there is no such thing as a truly difficult customer. There are only customers that have a lot of needs, and so your goal is to answer this question by showing that you’re someone that both tries to find out what the needs are and goes out of their way to make sure that those needs are addressed.
“Most customers are not necessarily difficult. They are simply looking for something that they did not get, and if you can figure out what it is they become easy, long term clients. I do remember this one customer that was a bit of a struggle, because he had so much on his plate all the time that he was forgetting our conversations, and while he was mostly frustrated with himself, he’d take out a lot of that frustration on the client management team.
But, like most customers, he was simply looking for something he needed. So what I did was, I started summarizing our discussions and emails, and sending it back to him at the end of every conversation. Any time he emailed or we spoke, I would start with ‘so the last time we spoke we talked about the following:’ and he’d get back up to speed quickly and felt a lot better about our conversations.”
Use any opportunity you can to build empathy with the customer within your answer, and then explain what you’ve done in the past to make sure that that customer walked away much more satisfied. If the end result is a clearly satisfied customer for well defined reasons, you’ll look great with the employer.