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Top 5 Communication Skills You Need When Dealing With Difficult Buyers

So you’re struggling with a difficult buyer, and are about to bang your head on the keyboard multiple times in the hopes of getting a migraine, so you’ll have an excuse to hold off on the reply until tomorrow?

Take a deep breath… We’ve all been there!

What if you could learn the skills necessary to communicate with a difficult buyer, and go about your day without feeling like you want to go all Rambo on your computer?

A few years ago I was in this particular situation. After buying a new keyboard (I smashed the old one), I thought to myself: maybe it’s my communication skills that need some work. So I started looking for the skills I needed to allow my keyboard and other peripherals to survive these…Herculean buyers. :upside_down_face:

Here’s what I’ve learned so far - and how I implemented these skills in my daily contact with difficult buyers. .

It all starts with communication
Handling difficult buyers, and clients, in general, can be a challenge. If you master some basic communication skills (that might not be obvious to you when you’re considering smashing that keyboard), you can master even the most difficult of buyers with ease - and a smile. Since we can’t just wish the difficult buyers away, turning the situation around seems like the best option we have.

So… Start by listening carefully to what the buyer has to say. When the buyer rants off, stay calm and professional. Maybe they have a point? If you listen carefully and show your buyer that your goal in this is to solve the problem, you are demonstrating that you’re professional, and value your clients.

This means that you shouldn’t react to rude remarks, and instead explain your opinion to the buyer calmly and professionally. If you try to empathize with them as well by communicating that you understand where they’re coming from, you can turn the situation around quickly.

Always restate their issue
This is something I always do when I have to deal with a difficult client. By restating their concerns in a calm way, this shows the buyer that I have understood their problem, and that I’m taking the issue seriously.

Apologize, even if it’s not your fault

This might be the hardest part: saying “I’m sorry” to a buyer who just emptied their entire frustration-quota for the day in your chat when it’s not even your fault! But, even if their grievance isn’t justified, say “I’m sorry that you feel that way” or “I’m sorry to hear that.” This can go a long way in disarming the angry person on the other side. If you’re in the right, you can still apologize for the misunderstanding, and then offer a solution.

Don’t fight with the buyer
Whatever you do, don’t fight with your buyer! Be professional about it, and try to talk the buyer down by offering a solution and using the skills you’ve learned to work things out. Always try to tone down the buyers’ anger rather than making it worse by responding in kind.

Always treat the buyer with dignity, and ask them politely if they can explain to you how they would like the outcome to be.

Follow up
After you’ve (hopefully) solved the buyers’ problem, always follow up by making sure the buyer is happy this time around. This might turn that angry customer into repeat business! One of my best clients started as a frustrated one because of a miscommunication, and we have a great working relationship to this day, thanks in part to what I’ve learned over the years when it comes to communicating in this sort of situation.

Are you saying I should just sit there and take abuse from the buyer?!

No - of course not! What you should do is to maintain your professional exterior, while handling the situation in a manner that might land you more business in the future, and can potentially avoid a negative review or cancellation.

If you become the victim of serious harassment and inflammatory language from a buyer (or seller), you should resolve the matter through customer support, or by blocking the individual.

Being great at communication, and being able to calm down the situation, isn’t the same as accepting abuse.

Examples:

Here is an example that can give you a better idea of how to implement these skills in your communication.

Mike (buyer): This logo is useless to us!! How do you expect me to use a logo with this ugly color? It looks like ***. You claimed to be a professional designer but this looks like something a 4-year-old would do!

Jenny (seller): Hi Mike. I’m so sorry to hear that you’re not satisfied with the logo design proposal I made for you. I understand that you’re not happy about the colors I’ve picked for your logo, and you want to change it. I would be very happy to fix this for you right away - however, I do need some more information to solve the problem in the best possible way.
Can you please explain in a bit more detail how you want the logo to turn out? Perhaps you could provide me with some color examples I can work with? Then I’m sure we can work together and create the perfect result for you.
All the best,
Jenny

I’m terrible at examples, but you get a general idea. The buyer was certainly not on his best manners in that example, but by answering politely, empathizing with the buyer, and offering to resolve the issue, the situation might have been turned around right then and there.

But, what if the buyer is extremely rude, using curse words, or calling you names? That’s a different ball game.

Then, I would start the conversation similar to the above, but right after the apology, state something like:

I’m sorry you feel that way, and I want to solve your problem in the best possible manner. However, to make this happen, I have to ask you to refrain from using inflammatory language and calling me names. I’m a human being, who can make mistakes like everyone else, but I do not accept name-calling or bad language. I hope you understand - and that we can work together to solve this as soon as possible.

You should never accept abuse from your buyers. If you can’t solve the issue by being polite, I suggest blocking the individual and contacting customer support to resolve the situation.

I hope this can be of help to anyone who is about to behave like the keyboard-smashing monkey I once was when dealing with difficult clients.

I would love to hear from you guys how you deal with this sort of situation as well!

Have a great Saturday, y’all!

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impressive content, i will use it :stuck_out_tongue:

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This is a great post. I’m new to Fiverr; therefore, really appreciating your post. Learned a lot from it!
Thank you!
Best!

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“I expect you to communicate in a polite way at all times with me. I will be happy to do a revision but I do not tolerate abuse. As soon as you apologize to me we can continue.”

Let them know it’s not ok to be abusive! Don’t just go on like what they said was normal and ok when they say things like that. I see the OP did mention that it’s important to let them know they can’t be abusive.

I always expect an apology before I can continue. Because I really do not want to continue at all but I’m giving them one last chance.

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This might work very well for you - but I find that rude remarks like that often end best if I simply respond to the professional part of the remarks - namely what the client wants to achieve, and how they handle it in their frustration.

But - and I think this is important - we all have a personal place where we draw the line. What I might be able to overlook, you might see as extremely offensive. And like I said in the original post, it’s totally fine to assert that you’re not accepting any rudeness. We should never have to accept bullying or rude comments - but how we handle them is the key to success in this situation.

So I agree with you that you should let them know it’s not ok to be abusive. But I would maybe start by apologizing first, and then move on to my remark about their rudeness. That affirms your position as polite and calm, yet sets the boundaries for the communication…

I try to think of myself as a customer support representative. If I was working for a big corporation, I would never ask the customer to apologize to me for their rudeness. I would maintain my calmness, and work to try and solve the issue. If I started requiring the customer to apologize before I was willing to help them, that might cause you to get fired, or at least having a reprimande at work, and would probably cause the client to become even more pissed off.

In these cases, I’m representing myself, as my own brand, and I want to behave in the same manner towards my clients as I would if I was working for someone else.

Thanks for your input!

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That might be enough to be a terms of service violation if they said that:

Inappropriate Behavior & Language - Communication on Fiverr should be friendly, constructive, and professional. Fiverr condemns bullying, harassment, and hate speech towards others. We allow users a medium for which messages are exchanged between individuals, a system to rate orders, and to engage on larger platforms such as our Community Forum and Social Media pages.

It could be worth reporting maybe and/or continuing but the seller always remaining polite. But I’m not sure the seller should be the one to apologise after the buyer said something like that. But if the buyer bullied/harassed the seller a bit like that it might be worth blocking the buyer some time after delivery and order completion (as long as Fiverr wouldn’t give a warning if the buyer wanted to use their remaining revisions some time after order completion and wasn’t able to).

If the trust & safety team noticed harassment/bullying they might cancel the order anyway.

edit also the reply:

Jenny (seller) : Hi Mike. I’m so sorry to hear that you’re not satisfied with the logo design proposal I made for you. I understand that you’re not happy about the colors I’ve picked for your logo, and you want to change it…

In the reply the seller has said “…I’m so sorry…” after getting bullied/harassed by the buyer. Just saying what the seller said in the above case isn’t letting the buyer know they shouldn’t be bullying the seller in that way. Which maybe is why the post should be reported so the trust & safety team can determine if it’s harassment/bullying and what should be done.

Indeed, it might be a violation of the terms of service. But if you think about it - would you rather solve the situation and get paid for your work, or would you want to make a big deal out of an angry buyer, cancel the order, and punish them for their behavior?

As I said, it all depends on your boundaries, and this is only the solution I found to work best for me when dealing with angry buyers.

Of course, if you attempt to be polite and solve the situation, and the buyer continues to be rude or abusive, I would report them myself. I’ll always attempt diplomacy first - unless the individual is way over the line.

You say you’re not sure if the seller should be apologizing after the buyer said something like that. Well - if you think about it, it’s all good business. If you want to take the high road, and not apologize, that’s your prerogative - but then you might risk getting negative reviews, cancellations, or lose out on business. I find that if you apologize you automatically disarm the buyer in most situations. And you don’t have to apologize for doing something wrong eighter - you could be apologizing for the situation having arisen in the first place.

And if you don’t wish to deal with that particular buyer once you have fixed their issue and completed the order, you’re free to block them any time you want.

You’re right in that the first reply from “Jenny” isn’t letting the buyer know they should behave differently. At least not directly. What it does is to behave in a service-minded, extremely polite manner, and this should hopefully be enough to disarm the buyer without having to tell them directly. By doing it that way, you avoid confrontation.

But hey - it’s all up to you. Some sellers just wanna get rid of these difficult buyers, and then I guess it’s fine to require apologies from the client, blocking them, reporting them and so on. I, on the other hand, would like to turn the situation around to something positive, and by doing so, creating repeat business and happy buyers.

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This is an amazing writing and explanation. Thank you so much, this helps me to improve my communication skill and dealing capabilities.

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Thank you for this nice suggestion,As a new seller i learn something new.

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I hope it will help me more. Anyway thanks for the biggest explanations which can help sellers to improve their communication. :heart_eyes::heart_eyes::heart_eyes:

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I’m down with a lot of this, politeness is par for the course. But, I would say never say sorry or apologize for anything. Unless you know it was your fault for sure. In fact if you can avoid saying the word sorry and substitute it at all times the better., unless you have a close relationship with a person. It’s logical if you think about it.
And my most important mantra …
Don’t let ANYONE ever be personally offensive towards you or your work. Leave people like this in the dust nothing good ever comes from people who like berating others.
Sounds cold, but I find it keeps things proffesional if things go south.
That’s just me…

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I agree with never saying sorry. I do when I have made a mistake. Recently, I wrote an article on the completely wrong topic for a client. I said sorry, delivered what was really wanted, and the buyer left me a generous tip on the basis they could use what I had initially delivered.

Sadly, most of the buyers I have who ask for revisions do so needlessly and with a serious bad attitude. When appliable, I just redeliver revisions with a basic, "Hi, Please find attached your amended order. I hope that this helps. Kind Regards, Andy."

Back in the day, I did a host of customer service courses with my old employer. These ranged from email etiquette to service across cultures. I can safely say that everything I learned and still try to put into practice is pointless.

Whether social media is to blame or people are just devolving, a lot of people these days are just savage when it comes to communicating online. When I get people like that, I don’t beat around the bush. I jusy tell them where to go and run and jump.

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I understand what you’re saying, but I think this is one of the problems with freelancers nowadays. They are simply too proud to say sorry. If you worked for a company, and a customer contacted you because something wasn’t right - you would probably be required to apologize for the inconvenience.

Freelancers, on the other hand, take things far to personal if someone becomes angered or unhappy with their work. The mentality of “never say sorry” is a part of this. If a client is angry, whatever the reason, you as a freelancer should feel you’re sorry for the situation, or them feeling that way. You don’t have to say you’re sorry for doing bad work - that’s not it at all. But apologizing for the situation, or the client feeling that way, I think is an integral part of the customer service portion of our work.

I think many freelancers think of themselves as personally responsible for their service, which they are, and because of this, any anger towards the work we do or our way of thinking is met with a proud “I don’t want to apologize - ever” attitude. And if you view this from your clients’ perspective - they don’t care if you’re a freelancer, a multinational enterprise, or a small agency - they are paying for a service they are not happy with. Simple as that. So when you apologize - even if it’s just an apology for the way they are feeling, you make the client feel valued, and you help them understand that you’re genuinely interested in helping them.

Even Forbes wrote a piece on the art of good customer service where the importance of a good apology, even if you’re not at fault, is important to the way the client feels - and ultimately, if the client is angry, you want to turn that around.

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By the way, there’s a ton of arguments for both ways of doing it. Some experts claim using “sorry” can even make things worse. I don’t agree with that assessment, but I can see the arguments as valid in some situations.

Using the s-word too much isn’t ideal, I get that. But at least for me, I found that the apology - restate - solution approach worked very well when dealing with angry clients.

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True, but I bet this is based I’m sure on old fashioned adages.
The clients polite, they explain themselves well after venting. They don’t call your work poo right out the gate. You just never want to give someone else victim status. I have personally had to deal with a lot narcissists and sociopaths and deal with them :yum::crazy_face:

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Yeah, they pop up from time to time. I don’t think it’s old fashioned to apologize at all - at least not in professional cases. I never apologize to my wife though. That rabbit-hole goes far too deep. :rofl:

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I do agree with you in this respect when there is a problem. What I do, though, is also always check the seller timezone.

If there is a significant time difference and the buyer is likely asleep, I don’t bother with any revision response message, I just revise and deliver. This seems (from my experience) to give buyers the impression you have prioritized their request and addressed their concerns promptly.

Holy smokes that’s the “red pill” for sure

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I did always wonder what happened after I released my ex back into the wild. :rofl:

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You got it :+1: the ID chanel is a showcase for em’