How to deal with tricky customers this Halloween (and at other times too)

The close of October brings with it, a new season of Stranger Things, an increased risk of tooth decay, an excess of spooky pumpkins and a sudden spike in the making/purchase of costumes.

And like it or not, it also brings trick or treating kids to your doorstep. Well, mostly kids.

If you work in customer support, then you might have noticed certain similarities between young trick or treaters and the customers that come knocking on support’s metaphorical door.

Here are a few ways you can handle some of the tricky customers you will encounter.


The ones that don’t make an effort

Every Halloween there are some kids that don’t really get into the holiday spirit; be it a lack of time or a lack of enthusiasm, these kids go door-to-door just because. The same way, there a some customers that, at times, don’t make the slightest effort to actually look for an answer to their question before getting in touch with support. Even for things right in front of them, or things that they could have effortlessly found on their own, they end up contacting support anyway.

These customers might have just not had enough time to go through your product, or maybe what they needed to find in your product wasn’t placed as intuitively as it needs to be. Either way, there are a few steps you can take to manage customers like this.

Making information easily accessible is one of the best ways to empower customers to solve problems themselves. A well-structured and comprehensive knowledge base will let customers find solutions without effort and also serve to reduce the amount of incoming tickets. Using canned responses and inserting solution articles in your responses are also effective ways of dealing with simple and recurring queries.

There are issues that canned responses and solution articles can’t fix. But if you need something more from the customer than what they already provided you, let them know that you genuinely want to fix their problem. Help them understand that you’re on their side, and ask them for the extra information that you need from them. This can be the motivation they need to cooperate and give you everything you need to solve their problem.


The ones that keep coming back

Whether they forgot (or think/hope you’ve forgotten) they already came to your house, there are those kids that go to the same house multiple times. This is a pretty common situation in customer support. Customers, having raised a ticket, will keep raising more through the same or other channels in the hope that their ticket gets addressed first.

These customers may just be pressed for time. Maybe they can’t afford to wait; maybe something crucial is broken. Whatever it may be, handling so many tickets from a single customer (across various channels at that) for the same issue can prove challenging.

When you have 8 different tickets with the same question, your first order of business should be to look at all the tickets that have been raised by the same customer. On a multichannel helpdesk, they’ll show up on a unified dashboard irrespective of the channel through which they were raised. Select all the ones that report the same issue and merge them into one. For simpler cases, a well-maintained knowledge base can be of great help, letting customers find answers instantly and eliminate their need for raising tickets altogether.

If you have different teams handling different channels, make sure you’re all on the same page by using Team Huddle to discuss with team members right on the ticket page. At times like these, presenting a uniform front and providing consistent answers is crucial.


The ones that just aren’t satisfied

There are always those kids that are never happy with what they get. On Halloween, you can just give them another bar of 3 Musketeers and send them on their way. If they grumble about how it’s just nougat, it’s not really your problem. But when you’re dealing with customers that aren’t satisfied no matter what you do, it can be quite demoralising. Not to mention, your rating could also end up taking a hit.

The only way to deal with such customers is to take a deep breath, not take anything personally, and solve their problems to the best of your ability. When you’ve done that, send them an immediate survey directly from your helpdesk and ask them honestly what you could have done better; what would have turned their frustration into satisfaction.

Your sincerity will get them to admit if they’re just having a bad day and are actually frustrated about something else. Or if they really did have a problem with the way you handled things, this is when they’ll tell you. You end up learning something new, or you at least know that you tried your best. No matter how these interactions turn out, it’s always important to remember that.


The ones that want it all and want it now

Then there are those kids that just demand your candy with a sense of entitlement. They can be a little difficult to deal with, but with proper communication, you can make it work. Similarly, for example, when a customer insistently demands a new feature, it could just be that the lack of that particular feature is severely affecting their workflow. Their pain-point is rather valid even if they seem a bit unrelenting.

If you know the feature they’re asking for is not going to be built, try and explain to them why that feature would not make sense for your product’s roadmap. Try and get them to see why their particular use-case might not be the best workflow for all of your other customers.

If the feature they’re asking for is in your roadmap but it’s a bit down the line, then elaborate on why it’s not your top priority at the moment but assure them that it will be built. In these situations, honesty and complete transparency is the best way to handle things. Of course, you can also use your community forums to implement this transparency so that you avoid the bulk of such issues.

There have been countless articles about all the bad types of customers, but all said and done, every Halloween, there are scores of children just as sweet as the candy and adorable to equal measure that it just makes your heart melt like a bar of chocolate left out in the sun.

Similarly in customer support, every now and then, you get a customer that’s just a pleasure to interact with. They are the ones that make you smile at the end of the call. The ones that make your job rewarding. The ones that remind you why you’re in the business of helping people. Dealing with customers like that is always a treat.

So what kinds of experiences have you had with customers? What types of “Halloween customers” have you had to face, and how would you handle them? Do let us know; we always love hearing from you!


P.S: This post was supposed to go out on the 31st, but then the lights started acting…weird.


Happy Halloween! Or if you’re in Mexico, feliz día de los muertos!