If you work in retail, I have no doubt that you’ve met your fair share of customers from hell.

It might even get so bad that you feel like quitting your day job.

But things do not have to be that way. 

There are ways to handle difficult customer situations and still achieve a desirable outcome.

Here are 5 important things to remember when dealing with tricky customers.

Do Not React Emotionally

The very first thing you should take note of in a tough situation is your emotions.

In confrontational situations, people often trigger their fight or flight instinct.

But both of these reactions will lead to undesirable outcomes in these situations.

While telling you not to react might be easy, practising it in a real situation will be tough.

So here’s what you should do when you meet a difficult customer.

1) Take a deep breath.

2) Wriggle your toes and finger in order to divert attention away from the situation.

Once you regain control of your emotions, return to address the customer.

Taking a pause helps stop and reset your mind so that you can better handle the situation.

Change Your Perspective

When you find yourself getting riled up by the situation, always take control of your emotions first.

Once you have done that, the next step is to take a moment to understand that the customer might not necessarily be mad at you, but at the situation instead.

By changing your perspective, you remove yourself and any form of personal feelings from the equation.

This helps you see the situation in a different light and helps you respond calmly and professionally. 

Really Listen To Your Customer

When your customer is upset the worst thing you can do is to stand there, unresponsively.

You can try to address them by their name to help establish a more personal link.

But most importantly, you will need to actively listen to them and understand the problem.

They need to feel that they are being taken seriously and actions are being done.

Lastly, when responding, always employ empathy in your response.

This can help calm the customer down.

You can do this by rephrasing the problem back to them empathetically.

For example, “I understand that you are frustrated the item is out of stock, I would to…”

Assess The Situation

“The customer is always right.” is an outdated saying and a very dangerous motto to follow.

Always ensure that you or your employees are not placed in any physical or emotional distress.

Customers that threaten or hurl verbal abuse should not be tolerated.

Not only does it set a bad precedent on how you handle future customers, but you also lose the trust of your employees.

When you are certain the customer is being unreasonable and problematic there are 3 steps to take.

1. Request that they calm down. If they do, discuss the situation with them again.

2. If they do not calm down, politely ask them to leave the store. Do not take aggressive actions and maintain your composure.

3. If it gets worse, just call the relevant authorities. Remember, you have rights as well!

Use This As A Learning Experience

This might be your first time meeting with a difficult customer.

Or it might be your second or third time encountering such a problem.

But it will definitely not be your last.

Take this problematic situation and convert it into a learning experience.

After everything has happened, review the situation with your employees.

Note down things you have done well and things you could have done better.

If things were especially bad this time round, take it in stride.

Come back the next day to review the situation after getting some time to rest.


While these are good tips to handle difficult customer situations, it is always best to prevent such situations from occurring in the first place.

Do everything in your power to provide a pleasant experience for your customers.

This includes everything from customer service to waiting time.

Make sure you pick employees that truly care about your customers and instill a customer friendly attitude in your store.

Digitally upgrade your business to serve your customers as efficiently and quickly as possible.

While there are many different solutions out there, one of the quickest ways to improve the service time of your business is to invest in a modern POS System.

Retail solutions such as EPOS provide POS system solutions that offer many features designed to improve the efficiency of your business.

Data driven inventory management helps you manage your stock level and forecast demand to ensure you’re never caught in an out of stock situation.

It also offers key insights into your business like best selling products or most loyal customers.

A modern POS system can help you bring your retail stores to greater heights.

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