How to handle different types of difficult customers

If you own your own business or work in sales or marketing, you’ve likely run into a challenging customer at one point or another. While every buyer is different and has unique needs and wants, if you understand a few key types of customers you might run into you’ll be better prepared to handle the situation.

Luckily, Fundera created a fun and informative infographic that outlines 11 types of difficult customers and how to handle them. Whether you encounter an “Indecisive Izzy,” a “Cautious Charlie,” or an “Aggressive Abigail,” learn the key characteristics of different customer profiles so you’ll be better prepared to diffuse the situation. If you play your cards right, you could even turn them into a customer for life!

infographic: 11 types of difficult customers and how to handle them

11 types of difficult customers and how to handle them

Indecisive Izzy

Who she is:
Can’t seem to make a decision despite how many questions she asks.

How to help her:

  • Acknowledge the indecision
  • Identify what the barrier to purchase is
  • Avoid being pushy
  • Offer facts and the best solution for her needs

Know-it-all Kevin

Who he is:
These difficult customers seem to know everything about your business and are highly critical to your recommendations.

How to help him:

  • Be patient and attentive
  • Don’t take anything personally
  • Use clarifying statements
  • Introduce new ideas to show there’s more to the product than he thought

Aggressive Abigail

Who she is:
Thinks her needs should be prioritized over others; she’ll raise her voice and get angry, quickly.

How to help her:

  • Stay calm
  • Don’t argue or respond with emotion
  • Show that you understand her point-of-view
  • Look for alternatives and other solutions

Impulsive Ivan

Who he is:
These difficult customers are very motivated to buy. However, they may overlook details and have trouble concentrating.

How to help him:

  • Be brief but specific
  • Provide clear incentives
  • Once you determine what he wants, act quickly
  • Make the purchase easy for him

Cautious Charlie

Who he is:
Worried about making the right decision, he’s vague and asks a lot of questions.

How to help him:

  • Don’t overexplain
  • Show interest in his needs
  • Give simple and factual answers
  • Offer real solutions to what he wants

Talkative Tammy

Who she is:
Although friendly, she tends to repeat herself, and may just be looking for human interaction.

How to help her:

  • Listen carefully
  • Paraphrase back what she says
  • Ask closed questions for a yes or no answer
  • Narrow down what she wants

Complaining Chad

Who he is:
These types of difficult customers amplify the problem, if there even was one to begin with, and are hard to satisfy.

How to help him:

  • Be attentive
  • Try to understand his point-of-view
  • Avoid excuses
  • Give a sincere apology

No Boundaries Nikki

Who she is:
Will ignore your schedule or time and expects quick answers to her may requests.

How to help her:

  • Respond calmly
  • Anticipate her questions
  • Set expectations
  • Check in with her regularily

Best Deal Barbara

Who she is:
Very concerned about her budget, she’ll compare prices and is often difficult to reason with.

How to help her:

  • Set clear expectations
  • Ask for a budget range
  • Offer a list of options
  • Highlight products at her price point

Demanding Devin

Who he is:
These types of difficult customers knows what they want. They’re entitled and may demand something you can’t provide.

How to help him:

  • Be extra communicative
  • Reassure him that you understand what he wants
  • Do the best you can to meet his expectations
  • Provide a compromise if possible

Paul the Pessimist

Who he is:
Both opinionated and negative, he’ll nitpick just about everything.

How to help him:

  • Don’t take it personally
  • Show empathy
  • Ask questions to see where the negative is coming from
  • Provide a real solution to his needs