The Gift of an Extremely Difficult Customer

Difficult customers can be a gift

We are fortunate to have the most laid-back, easygoing customers on the planet.

We are also fortunate to have one customer who is extremely (which is really not a strong enough word) difficult to please.

When we see this guest on our reservation calendar, it forces us to operate at an even higher level of service than we do each and every day. We know that this client pays very, very, VERY close attention to all the details — from the room setup, to the food layout, to the amount of ambient light — and is not afraid to point out anything that is out of place.

We engage this client in every way we can think of. We look for everything that went “wrong” with this client in the past so we can make preemptive corrections.

There is a long list of hoops we jump through for this client. One example is the salad. At a past meeting, the client gave us the feedback that we didn’t serve enough salad (although it was the same amount we had always served). So for their next meeting we ordered twice as much salad, and we ate the cost. Needless to say, we had plenty of salad that time and didn’t hear any complaints…about the salad anyway.

Here’s how we handle our most difficult client:

1. We listen. Sometimes that’s all it takes. The client just wants to be heard.

2. We get past feeling defensive and we always take a good look at the suggestions. Sometimes the suggestions are quite valid and really worth paying attention to. Honestly, we do throw some of them out in the end, but we consider them all.

3. We act on the good suggestions to get even better at what we do.

4. When we see this client on our calendar, we immediately begin to work on ways to meet their needs and desires.

This client challenges us. The result is that we proactively try to please this client now rather than simply react to everything that gets pointed out to us. We also tend to raise our game for all of our other clients when this happens.

Again, we are fortunate to have a customer who pushes us to be better than our best. It’s a gift.

How do you handle your most difficult customers?


Here you'll find ideas, tips, and techniques to help make your next offsite your best meeting yet.We've learned a lot during the 15,000+ meetings we've hosted, and we never stop learning (and sharing) because meetings and teams are always evolving. Be sure to leave comments and join the conversation!