Five ways to deal with pushy customers

By Adam Blanch

Did you know that pushy customers can become your greatest brand ambassadors? Sure, they can be annoying, demanding, unreasonable and tiresome, but the key is in understanding what a pushy customer really wants and learning how to give it to them. Let's start with some 'pushy' psychology.

Unless they are pushing because you've failed to provide good service, it's a fair bet that a pushy Pauline is feeling a tad insecure about herself. Aggressive people generally lack a strong sense of their own worth. They are demanding that other people treat them as someone important because they desperately need to feel that someone cares about them. When you see it from that perspective, handling 'pushy' is easy. Here are five tips for turning push into purr.

1. Don't panic!

We don't need two upset people here. Be direct, attentive and engaged so they know that they have some chance of having their needs met.

2. Listen, empathise and reassure

Whatever you do, don't try to ignore or minimise their concerns - pushy customers need to feel they are being taken seriously. First attend to their information by saying something like "So it sounds like the problem is..." Next, attend to their feelings by saying something like, "I can see that would be very frustrating." Finally, either apologise (if your business is at fault) or assure the customer that their problem will be dealt with immediately.

3. Find out what they want

Don't just assume you know what they are after - ask them. Something to the effect of "What would you like us to do to make this right?" or "How can we fix this problem to your satisfaction?" By asking them to suggest the solution, you are giving the power and responsibility back to them.

4. Thank them

As sure as night follows day, a feeling of shame will follow an act of aggression, even if they don't acknowledge it. If they leave feeling ashamed, they will tell bad stories about you. Saying something like "Thank you for going to the trouble to tell us so we could fix this" gives them a sense of importance and neutralises their feelings of shame.

5. Follow up

Ask them for their number so that you can follow up and make sure everything went okay. While you're at it, why not give them a special discount on their next purchase in appreciation, or request that they tell you immediately if there is ever another problem?

If you change the way you see a pushy customer, they will change the way they see you.


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