I recently finished a book called How to Deal with Difficult Customers: 10 Simple Strategies for Selling to the Stubborn, Obnoxious, and Belligerent
by Dave Anderson. The focus of the book is how to sell to ‘SOB (Stubborn, Obnoxious or Belligerent) Customers but many of his words of wisdom apply to the practice of customer satisfaction. Most customer satisfaction theory revolves around the quality of the product and post sale support. The main point of this book is that customers can become dissatisfied during the selling process and provides techniques on how to prevent the most common problems.

Difficult customers, both internal and external, are a part of everyday business, and finesse must be used when managing their concerns without further damaging or losing the project. Although many outcomes will often depend on the scope and size of the problem, there are a few key tenets applicable to every situation that will help you and your client come to an amicable resolution.

Customer service representatives, complaint managers and senior executives are often confronted by irate customers. When the interaction is in person or over the phone, there are techniques to calm the customer and get to the heart of the matter. Here are 7 steps I used at IBM when I handled critical customer complaints.

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