Management May 2, 2016 Last updated September 18th, 2018 1,770 Reads share

4 Types of Customers That Could Ruin Your Team’s Day

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Anyone who has worked with the public has experienced it. A customer walks in and in a matter of moments ruins the flow of the workday. Perhaps the customer doesn’t mean to come across as aggressive or rude, but she does. Or, perhaps the customer has completely good intentions but still manages to drain one of your team members.

Why Does This Matter?

Being aware of difficult types of customers is vital to your overall success. Challenges with the public take a tremendous toll on workers these days. Without acknowledgement, you run a few big risks:

  • Burning out your best employees;
  • Diluting the level of customer service your team provides;
  • A decline in business as a result of bad reviews and negative experiences.

4 Types of Customers That Could Ruin Your Team's Day

Here are four types of customers who could put a damper on your team’s positive spirit at work.

#1. The Aggressive Type

We’ll call this type, Hostile Harry. He’s the guy who walks in the door with a chip on his shoulder. Nothing your team can do will be good enough for him.

As soon as there is a hint of something going wrong, Hostile Harry takes advantage of the situation and raises a ruckus to get his way. He gets louder as he speaks with your employee. He makes sure everyone around him can hear about his frustration. It’s demeaning and embarrassing.

The only way to combat this situation is by having your team member keep her cool. Matching his hostility will only fuel the already raging fire. It takes a thick skin to deal with this type of customer.

#2. The Self-Centered Type

We’ll call this person Selfish Sue. When she’s patronizing your business, she does not notice anyone else around her. Her only focus is on the level of service she’s receiving. Waiting in line, waiting for help, or waiting on just about anything else is enough to get her upset. She feels like she should be a priority to your staff and if she doesn’t see that happening, she’ll make it known that she’s disappointed.

The best way to deal with her is to do your best to serve her as soon as possible, without losing sight of the other customers. If there’s someone who might be better able to assist, it’s a good idea to call in the ranks and get them on the floor to help.

#3. The Complainer

We’ll call him Complaining Chris. He’s the first one to point out when something isn’t quite up to par, even if that thing is something small or insignificant to most other customers. He has a good eye for finding fault and a bad eye for seeing the good in things. And this is only the beginning.

As Complaining Chris sticks around in your place of business, he gathers reasons to gripe. He could be upset about a glass left on a table in your lobby by the last customer. Or, he could complain about the way someone is wearing his uniform. The reasons could be small but the more and more he expresses his observations, the worse it gets. It puts a major toll on your employees as they have to apologize repeatedly for such small infractions.

The best way to deal with this type of customer is to apologize and move forward. He wants acknowledgement and a quick apology will usually suffice. Trying to make excuses or explain the situation will fall on deaf ears. Try to get his transaction completed so he can leave your place of business as soon as possible.

#4. The Know-It-All

We’ll call this customer Know-It-All Nancy. From the moment she arrives at your business, she has an air of superiority about her. She knows what she wants and she knows what she needs from your business. She also knows more about what you offer than any of your employees – or so she thinks.

As your employees try to do their job and help her, she brushes them off. She doesn’t want to be told what to do.

Flattery goes a long way in dealing with this type of customer. The more you can tell her how right she is, the better. Or, the more you can compliment her, the better. She’s looking for validation when she comes to your store – not help. Make sure there is truth behind everything you say so that she doesn’t think you’re patronizing her either. Keep things cordial and complimentary and your employees will have an easier time dealing with her.

What Can You Do?

It’s impossible to completely avoid having these customers enter your place of business. Although you still want the sales, you need to be aware of the possibilities of the strain it puts on your employees.

Train Your Team

One thing you can do is hold a special team training for your employees on how to deal with these customers. The better prepared they are to face them head on, the easier they will be to deal with. Training your team members on what types of challenges to expect will make it so they’re not caught by surprise when one of these customers walks into your store. Instead, they’ll know that it is a normal part of the job and nothing wrong with them personally.

Schedule Frequent Breaks

You can also schedule in frequent breaks for your team members. This will help them decompress after these types of negative experiences. Having regular breaks scheduled is especially helpful if you’re not always around to monitor when an employee looks more stressed than usual.


Challenging customers are a part of any customer service job. By recognizing the risks, the types of people causing your team to feel drained and the ways to handle them, you put your employees in a better position to deal with these customers.

Which of these customer types have you or your team encountered? Did you find a particularly useful way of dealing with them? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Images: ” Unhappy customer complaining about the croissant in a cafe  /


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Jon Forknell

Jon Forknell

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