Why are Your Customers Being Difficult? Ten Reasons

TopTenList When do customers act out in a way that makes them difficult to deal with?

My friend Peter in a comment said – I understand that corporations must respond to changing consumer behavior, but I'm fascinated by the the concept of the needy consumer.

As customers, do we need a corporation to satisfy our emotional needs to earn our loyalty?

In response, I thought of at least ten reasons why your customers are being difficult — or seem to be:

(1.) You're the only game in town or one of a few, limited options

You think you have a captive audience, then realize it still takes a special effort not to be arrogant in those circumstances because your customers don't like the treatment.

For example, if you're looking for a high speed Internet provider, there may be only one to choose from in your market. A mobile network with broad global coverage? Same thing, one or two.

(2.) People want to be part of something bigger/better

On the other hand, if you are the only game in town, how about considering the community and the people who look up to your company?

Are you as a company excited to be part of that community? Are your people encouraged to contribute?

(3.) Customers feel you're charging too much

Especially when everyone is facing tightening economic conditions, there isn't perceived or tangible value associated between the bang for their buck and your rates.

That's why it's a good idea to convey value through every interaction. Your good deal will be put to the test by your customers with their peers.

(4.) You're not listening to what they have to say

Incentive are wrapped into too many rules to follow or hoops to jump through, and they both point in some other direction than where the customer wants to go. When customers offer ideas for terms that are more convenient to them, they fall on deaf ears.

Is there a better way to handle interactions to help people feel heard?

(5.) You're being negative

The conversation may have started on the right foot, but you continue to talk about what can't be done, the rules and policies, and what cannot be changed. How about taking a more positive stance, one that has a chance to transmit a better vibe during the call?

How many of you have experienced this?

(6.) You're not soliciting feedback

This could even be worse than not listening. We all know that what we like may not be what others want, even at home. Why would this be different with customers? Changes in product, and packaging may lead to confusion.

A few years back Pepsi changed the Tropicana packaging and ignited a bevvy of responses, most of them against the new look.

(7.) You're asking, but not following up

One more step on the infuriating scale is when you ask, acknowledge what your customer is telling you, and then do nothing about it. If a customer takes the time to give you input, the expectation is that there will be some kind of follow up.

Wouldn't you expect the same?

(8.) You make it difficult to reach the right person

Many touch points may be good in marketing parlance, but when it comes to customer service, they're not so convenient. Have you experienced one or two transfers when calling a company? I can count up to five and then back to the original number.

(9.) You change the rules midstream

Managing expectations is one thing, but today the rules and the fine print are changing so often, that it's become difficult to figure out what is included and what isn't, with anything.

There's a trust impact here — the confidence we had in the organization, and the confidence the organization has in its own ability to deliver on promises.

(10.) Some customers are always going to be difficult

It's not personal, let's face it, there may not be a way of pleasing them. Does that mean you should stop trying?


Are you a difficult customer? I know I can be for some of the reasons outlined here.

How many of these issues could go away or not take place if businesses focused on closing the gap between promises made and promises kept? After all, it is just business.


[updated from the archives]


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