Whatever line of business you are in, you occasionally meet customers who know (or at least think they know) more about your industry than you do. Although sometimes intimidating, these know-it-all customers are not anything to fear. In fact, they can even be an asset if you know how to handle them correctly.
Handling difficult customers is a key part of providing high-quality customer service. Most people working in public-facing roles would agree that a customer who knows anything and everything about your brand, products or processes can be extremely difficult to deal with. The problem with these customers is that they demand a deviation from the standard customer service script, which can be disconcerting for certain staff members.
However, know-it-all customers do not have to be a headache for everyone who comes into contact with them. The key to dealing with these apparent experts is to use their knowledge to your advantage. Know-it-all customers generally have a very strong idea of what it is they want or need, which means that you can often skip lengthy explanations of how your products and services work. Rather than delivering a standard script, the job of the salesperson or company representative in this case is to listen carefully to the customer and offer a solution that matches with his needs.
Questions are extremely useful when dealing with know-it-all customers. Rather than trying to give information to someone who is already very well informed, ask open-ended questions to get the customer to reveal exactly what he needs from your company. Listening carefully to the answers he gives also is extremely important.
If a customer knows more than you do on a particular topic, do not try to belittle him or pretend that you are the expert. Even if the customer only thinks he knows best, you still need to be tactful and respectful. Don't argue with him or try to make out that he knows nothing. If a customer implies that your own knowledge is lacking, avoid the temptation to get angry. Handling difficult customers requires the ability to stay calm even when you are deeply offended on the inside.
If handled correctly, know-it-all customers can be very rewarding to work with. They tend to have strong opinions about what they need and want, which can be enormously helpful if you are prepared to listen and take these views on board. The key is not to let these customers provoke you into feeling intimidated, angry or frustrated. Remain professional at all times and use the customer's knowledge as a useful asset to inform the discussion.
Dealing with know-it-all customers requires confidence, professionalism and the ability to listen. Business owners need to ensure that all employees who deal with customers have these key skills and know when to deploy them to achieve the best possible outcome with this type of customer.
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