The Most Difficult Thing About Customer Service

Customer Service is a challenging job, as it requires you to be on top of your game while dealing with constant, close to unpredictable, situations. 

Because of their attitude or an exterior situation related to your services, the most challenging thing about working in customer service might be dealing with the customers. Ironically, in all the complex and unexpected situations you may face, the client will be the real challenge. Let’s see why. 

8 Customer Service Challenges 

Some of the most challenging scenarios that you might face in customer service are: 

1. Dealing with Difficult Customers 

Being that the customer is at the center of the customer service, dealing with those who, for some reason, have an attitude can be pretty challenging. There are three scenarios where that may generally occur: 

  •  When the customer is rightly upset about your services;
  • When the customer is wrongly upset about your services; 
  • When the customer is upset about something else that has nothing to do with you or your company – in other words, they are having a bad day. 

How Do You Handle Difficult Customers?

Here’s a breakdown of the 9 steps to take when dealing with a difficult customer:

  • Manage expectations and be Ready for Anything
  • Listen with the Intention of properly Understanding
  • Rephrase the Issue back to the Customer for validation
  • Show Empathy and Willingness to Help
  • Apologize for the bad Experience the Customer Had
  • Resolve the Issue as Fast and As Effectively as Possible
  • Diagnose the Root Cause and Close the Loop
  • Reach out to the Customer for a Satisfaction survey and Appreciate their Feedback
  • Log the Complaint as a Lesson Learned and Share with the Service Team

When dealing with difficult customers, you want to make sure that you are patient enough not to upset them even further. 

Hear them out, not just to respond but to understand where they are coming from and why they are so upset. Empathize with them and show that you understand them. Apologize for the way they are feeling, even when you are not responsible for it. Resolve the issue as fast and as effectively as possible. Diagnose the source of the problem, make sure it doesn’t happen again. 

If you are interested in learning more check out this article about the top 15 interpersonal skills for customer service, I am sure it will help in understanding what key skills should be mastered and prioritizing your learning.

2. Dealing With Too Many Customers 

Training the customer service team to resolve issues as effectively as possible, monitor and reward the first-time resolution rate, and respond to all your customers. Customers are pretty demanding when it comes to service. They expect fast responses, even if that doesn’t mean a resolution.

Having what we call a “busy day” is one of the most challenging parts of customer service. Dealing with issues and problem-solving seems tough enough. But it can get worse when you are overloaded with complaints and requests for assistance. 

Work with your team on setting up an environment where everyone is working towards quickly and effectively deal with customer concerns, as it will save you time. Yet don’t forget to actually solve the issue after responding. 

3. Dealing With Inconvenient Customers 

Customer service may come with a few awkward situations. You might get calls from a few inconvenient customers now and then. There can be customers who call just to chat, out of boredom or loneliness; those who ask inappropriate questions or questions that you can’t answer; customers who complain about things that are out of your control; or even customers who stay in the call way past their problem resolution. 

You won’t have the patience to deal with them, yet you must make an effort, as the way you interact with them will contribute to the building of your company’s reputation. 

4. Dealing With Customers With No Time 

You can be dealing with customers who want their issues solved and don’t have a lot of time to wait for it. Or, you can be dealing with customers whose problems are too extensive for the time you have to solve them. In both cases, that will cause you a lot of stress. 

You obviously can’t let the stress get to you. If you notice that you aren’t given enough time to solve a customer’s problem, inform them in a way that makes them understand it and maybe reschedule the call to another time or redirect them to another agent. 

Even when you have to terminate the call, you need to make sure that you leave your customer with the sensation of having their issue solved. 

5. Dealing With Customer’s Whose Problem You Can’t Solve 

A customer service agent may fail to resolve a customer issue due to a lack of information, training, or even experience. As a general rule, the best course of action is taking sufficient time to investigate or escalate the issue, and asking the client to contact them once the diagnosis is completed.

This is one of the most difficult situations that you might have to maneuver. The whole point of contacting a company’s customer service line, for a customer, is having their issue solved. When that doesn’t happen, the customer might be unsatisfied and displeased with your services. 

I wrote an article recently about why customer service calls are recorded, and this point here is one of the key ones discussed (there are more, please read it here). Going back to the call and listening to a customer complaint with a more senior member of the team or an expert on that specific issue often proves to be the most effective way to solving a complex customer issue.

6. Dealing With Customers In a Crisis 

Sometimes when a product or service crushes, you might get many calls from customers trying to understand what’s going on. Until the problem is solved, that can be chaotic and what we call a crisis. 

The best you can do is try and assure your customers that you’re working on solving the issue and keeping them informed of your progress or any valuable update, as that makes them feel seen and heard. 

7. Dealing With Customers With Technical Limitations 

Sometimes customers will present issues that are a technical limitation of your company in particular. Whether for lack of means to update your service or for any other reason beyond you, you won’t be able to attend to their necessities. That can leave you in a bad situation, as despite customer requests, you can’t attend to them. 

In those situations, the ideal posture is an apologetic one. Where you apologize to your customer for not being able to meet their expectations and assure them that you will consider an update, even if you know you are not at the place of making it happen.  

8. Dealing With Customers When You Have To Terminate Your Relationship

One of the main goals of a customer experience strategy is to retain the customer (you may learn about the other ones in this article). However, like any relationship, the relationship between a customer and a company may reach a point of no return, whether because you can no longer meet their needs or for other reasons that might come up. 

When that happens, and the only solution is to give up the relationship, make sure you do it in a positive tone. Help them understand that it’s beyond the both of you and, if possible, help them out by suggesting other companies that can better serve them. Make sure you end the relationship on a good note for your company’s benefit. 

With so many challenges and hardships, a customer representative job might have become the last thing on your list of “ideal jobs.” Yet, there’s also a good side to it, as everything is not always so black and white. 

What Are The Benefits Of Being A Customer Service Representative? 

Here’s a list of Skills that can be developed by working as a customer service representative: 

  • Emotional Intelligence; 
  • Patience;
  • Active Listening skills;
  • Effective problem-solving skills;
  • Good Networking skills;
  • Good Communication Skills;
  • Good Sales skills; 
  • Good Marketing skills.  

Working as a customer service representative can be growth-inducing beyond what you can imagine. It’ll teach you a lot about yourself and others and help you develop skills and character traits that will serve you beyond your workplace.

Want to learn more about handling customers on the phone? Please check out our article with 10 tips on how to talk to customers on the phone.

Customer Service Challenges

If you are open enough to see beyond the struggles and the hardships that come with the task, you can use your customer service job as a tool for self-development. You can also use it to spread good energy by actually showing up to your customers, always as your best self, spreading positivity! 

Further Readings

3 Common Difficult Situations and How to Deal with Them. FRESHDESK 

5 Pretty Decent Benefits of Starting Your Career in Customer Service. THE MUSE

Emidio Amadebai

For the past 2 years, I have been working as the head of Customer Experience, Sales, Marketing, and Customer Finance at an international pay as you go solar home system company working in rural areas in Africa. After my previous 7 years working in B2B, IT&Telecoms industry, as a Service Delivery and Project Manager, having worked with Vodacom, Huawei, and other multinational companies. My job is to make sure we improve the lives of thousands of families, with access to electricity, utilities (radio, TV, lights), doing our very best so that they get the best-in-class customer experience, and succeed in acquiring the products for themselves.

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