How To Answer “How Would You Deal With a Difficult Or Angry Customer?”

Do you have an upcoming job interview? Then you might stumble on the interview question: How would you deal with a difficult or angry customer?” or “How would you handle a customer complaint?” Learn how to answer this interview question by using our tips, techniques and example answers.

The reason why employers ask this question is to find out if you remain calm under pressure, if you can diffuse the challenging situation and solve issues to a satisfactory level. When answering this question, it’s important to convey enthusiasm and eagerness to solve issues and handle difficult customers.

Example Answer (Experienced)

Context“As a sales associate at [Store XYZ], I’ve seen customers yell and knock over displays. It’s usually the result of inadequate help and slow processes.

Action: For the sake of clarity and efficiency, I would first ask the customer to explain the problem to ensure I’m the right person to assist them. If that’s the case, I repeat what they say, express sympathy followed by a genuine apology. I then take the responsibility to resolve the problem or ask the customer for an alternative solution and verify with management if it’s in line with the company policies. 

Results: As a result, customers tend to show signs of relief, thank me for my support and sometimes even apologize for their behaviour. 

Learning: Throughout the years, I’ve learned to stay calm, cool and collected right from the start. Anger and frustration is usually the result of not being heard.”

Example Answer (No Experience)

“Well, I’ve had difficult conversations with people that felt unheard in either college or at the local sports club. Fortunately, I’m able to remove my emotions from the occasion which makes it easier to listen and show compassion and that will usually de-escalate the situation. 

In a B2B environment like yours, I’d also listen and let the client vent all their frustration. I’d then show my understanding and calmly ask questions to find out the root cause. After I restate and reiterate the issue, I’d assure the client that I’ll take care of the problem personally. If possible, I’d also explain ‘how’ I plan to resolve the client’s issue and prevent future occurrences.”

Interview Question Tips

  • Don’t complain about a difficult customer. Remember, It’s not about who’s right or wrong or your feelings about the situation. It’s to examine your professional attitude and approach. 
  • Do show how you’d handle a customer complaint. For example, describe a real life situation where you demonstrate: open body language, calm and compassionate behaviour, address the customer’s concerns, seek common ground, take responsibility and find a suitable solution.