Dealing with difficult customers is part of having and doing business with the public. There is no way around it — we all have horror stories concerning difficult customers. I have a few concerning difficult vendors as well!!
Sometimes, for our sanity, we need to ‘fire’ customers — refuse to do business with them any more. But before you do that, I suggest you read through some of the tips shared by The Arts Business Institute:
How Artists Can Deal with Difficult Customers
Negative comments...Rise above any temptation to respond to negative comments; they are welcome to their opinion. Rather, seek out those people who have positive or constructive comments about your work. You will surely hear a lot of compliments, but some customers have suggestions that may provide new ideas or even improvements. …
Haggling. At a retail event, there are always people who want to try to talk you into a lower price….
If someone is buying a number of pieces of your work and you choose to offer a discount, or free shipping, then do what you feel is right for you. Likewise, you may have a policy to give repeat collectors special pricing. But these terms are for you to offer to customers as you see fit.
Plan for hagglers, and be ready with an answer for those who ask for a discount. A simple, ”I’m sorry, I don’t discount my work” can be very effective.
Customer complaints….Plan ahead to address common complaints that customer might have, so that you can resolve them quickly. Do you have a return policy? Do you offer guarantees? Do you provide repairs on your work, whether free or for a charge? Share this information on your website and in the information you give to customers at the time of purchase – it can help you avoid problems before they surface….
Still, there will be times that you must deal with a customer who isn’t happy with their purchase. Remember, excellent customer service is expected these days. Many times, bending over backwards to make sure that your customers are really happy can pay off, with future sales and testimonials forthcoming.
The best advise (also listed in the article) is to plan ahead! If you have a plan of action in your head (and listed on your website), you can typically head off most common complaints.
But then, there is always that one ….. treat them firmly and with respect. With a little practice, you can learn to nicely tell a disgruntled customer that maybe it would be best if they shopped elsewhere (Never had to do that with a consumer, but told a few retail buyers that after the umpteenth complaint!).
More info on dealing with difficult customers: Communicating with Difficult Customers