How to handle difficult customers

Would love to hear your stories about a difficult customer you've had to deal with. In the heat of the moment, it’s important to keep your cool while putting out fires.

When dealing with difficult customers and situations, it is important to communicate in a professional, competent, and noncombative way. The following are seven methods and skills to assist you in this area.

1.) Immediately shift into the “stay calm” mind-set.

When dealing with a difficult customer it’s easy to lose your cool, or become defensive –especially if they are angry and upset and you are under a great deal of stress yourself. If you do lose control, you will make the person even angrier and cause yourself even more stress.

2.) Remember what an angry person needs.

An angry customer needs to vent. Unfortunately, they may take their anger out on you and blame you for what happened even if it’s not your fault. Nevertheless, apologize, and let them have their say before you respond further. This will leave you in a better position to calm them down.

3.) Get comfortable with a verbal cushion

When a customer is unhappy or angry, diffuse the situation. Memorize the “verbal cushion” below so you can apply them when you need to “cushion” a customer’s anger and help you to handle the situation more effectively.

“I’m sorry.” :cool2:

4.) Do not judge.

Regardless of the situation or problem, never judge or “correct” a customer. If they are angry with you, refrain from making any statements such as, “Didn’t you have your breakfast this morning??”

5.) Learn how to handle irate customers who completely lose control

What do you do when you encounter an angry customer who uses foul language? The most professional way to handle it would be to state, “Mr. Smith, I am sorry that I slept with your wife". "Can we move on to letting me assist you with your gardening needs?”

6.) Admit when you’re wrong.

If you or someone in your organization made a mistake or did not handle a situation appropriately, say, “Please accept my apology, I was wrong to have slept with your wife”.

7.) Be proactive in preventing problems from occurring

The very best way to handle difficult customers and situations is to prevent problems from occurring. Consider situations that can cause customer dissatisfaction. Then, think of ways to be proactive in preventing them from occurring. For example:

  • Don't sleep with customers !!
  • Know where to find every part, so you are prepared to put your hands on it when customers need it.
  • Never make a promise you can’t keep.
  • Never make a customer wait a week.
  • Don’t assume your staff knows how to handle difficult customers and situations. Train them.

    A Final Word on Difficult Customers and Situations

    When it comes to dealing with difficult customers, remember this: You can say and do everything right and still not be able to diffuse the situation. Don’t carry it over to your next customer or take it out on your team.

Lawn Expert Lawn Care

LawnSite Member
Bristol, VA
aggree 100%!! its sooo important to treat your customer right...even if they blame you for something you didn't even do! don't let it bother you and take the blame- or it may be some one else's customer to worry about

PK Mows

LawnSite Member
Memphis Tn
How hot was the Wife? I mean if she was like Victoria's Secret Model Hot, well.........

Empathize with them too. Let them know that you truly do care about their issue and help them through their complaint. Understand that anger can be modified, work with them, listen to them and let them know how you are going to correct the issue. It takes a lot of energy to stay mad, once you let them burn that off, they usually become more complacent and receptive to your input.

But don't be weak. And being weak includes getting angry yourself. You don't have to let yourself be walked on, but you also don't have to get mouthy yourself. Stand up straight, maintain your composure, don't get aggressive. Most people will feel some sort of remorse after they've pitched a fit, so just wait them out and try to make the best of the situation.

And don't post pics of the Wife on your company's Facebook page.


LawnSite Platinum Member
Look in the mirror and teach yourself how to 'look' concerned.
You will have your inner eyebrows raised and a bit of a crinkle in the middle of your forehead with your eyes just a bit more wide open. This shows that you are listening...and they will perceive this.

I'm not saying to put on a show, but we need to take into account how we are either trying to remedy the situation...OR, stirring the pot...through how we present ourselves.

If you present with anger, you'll have lowered inner eyebrows with a squint = and this will fuel them on.


LawnSite Member
I have an amusing story for you. This morning I went to quote a landscaping job down the road. When I walked up the driveway, I was followed by a plumber. Lucky for me the plumber warned me that that homeowner still owed him money for work he had completed weeks ago.. I left soon after they began their heated exchange !!

Moral of the story:

- Life is always about timing.
- Beware of Non Paying Customers and always get a deposit