Author:
MBA Research and Curriculum Center
Subject:
Career and Technical Education, Business and Information Technology, Marketing, Management and Entrepreneurship
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Level:
Middle School, High School
Tags:
  • Classroom Activities
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Customer Service
  • Handling Difficult Customers
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Marketing
  • Rubric
  • Rubrics
  • Work-based Learning
  • License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Language:
    English
    Media Formats:
    Downloadable docs

    Handling Difficult Customers - Rubric with Activities

    Overview

    This rubric includes three scenarios (one for the classroom, one for the workplace, and one for career-technical student organizations) that can be implemented to assess students' abilities to handle difficult customers in the workplace. It also includes a comprehensive rubric and instructions for using the rubric to assess student performance. A downloadable document containing the full set of activities, intructions, and rubrics can be found in the Resource Library. For more rubrics and other instructional tools, visit https://mbastatesconnection.mbaresearch.org/.

    Classroom Activity - Option 1

    Instruct students to imagine that they are salespeople in an upscale department store, and that they are being approached by a customer who has a reputation for being difficult. Tell students that this is their chance to demonstrate their skills in handling difficult customers. Students should read the following store policies and customer situations and write responses to each situation explaining what they would do. Use the rubric attached to evaluate their responses.

    Student Activity:

    You are a salesperson in an upscale department store. As you begin straightening merchandise on the counters, you notice that a customer has come into your department. You’ve never assisted this customer, but you’ve heard other employees talking about the difficulties they’ve encountered with the person. They’ve indicated that they try to avoid the customer whenever possible. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your skills in handling a difficult customer.

    Read the following store policies and customer situations. Be prepared for all situations. Write a response to each situation explaining what you would do. Some of your store’s policies are as follows:

    •     Goods will be accepted for exchange or refund only when accompanied by a sales receipt.

    •     Refunds are given up to 30 days after a purchase.

    •     A credit to a customer’s account will be issued for sale items that are returned.

    •     Salespeople do not make cash refunds. Those must be obtained through the credit office by presenting the sales receipt and product.

    •     Goods with obvious signs of wear and tear cannot be returned.

    •     Salespeople should contact security when they suspect a customer of shoplifting. They should watch the customer closely but not accuse the customer of shoplifting.

    Situation A: The customer stops to examine picture frames. You approach to be of assistance. In response to your approach, the customer says, “Are you stupid? Of course, I know the advantages of glare-free glass.”

    Situation B: As you approach, the customer takes a phone out of the shopping bag s/he is carrying and says, “This phone is no good; the buttons broke off and it shuts off all the time. I want my money back.” The customer presents a receipt. You notice that the receipt two years old and that the phone has many scratches and chipped edges.

    Situation C: As you approach, the customer says, “I want your very best sunglasses. I always buy the best. No need to waste time buying less than the best. Like I always say, you get what you pay for.”

    Situation D: After you explained the benefits of a tablet to a customer, s/he asks, “Are you sure this is as good as or better than a laptop? If it’s so good, why do they still make laptops? What kind of problems do people have with them? What’s its warranty? What if I don’t end up liking it?

    Situation E: As you approach a customer who is looking at formal attire, the customer turns to you and says, “I don’t know what to buy for the prom. Should it be light or dark? Fancy or plain? I just don’t know. What do you think?”

    You will be evaluated using the rubric provided. 

    On the Job Activity - Option 2

    Students will work with their employer to demonstrate their ability to handle difficult customers. Their supervisors should role-play the part of a difficult customer whom the student might encounter while working at their businesses. The customer types and appropriate actions for the student to take are identified in the attached handout. The supervisor should review those actions, and familiarize himself/herself with the rubric. S/he should create a difficult-customer situation that is often encountered at his/her business or one that presents special difficulties for the employees. The supervisor should implement the situation and rate the student’s ability to handle the situation using the rubric provided in Task 1.
     

    Role-play a situation at work in which you must satisfy the needs of a difficult customer. Someone at work will assume the role of the customer. The customer will represent one of the following types of difficult customers: disagreeable, dishonest, domineering/superior, slow/methodical, or suspicious. To prepare for the encounter, review the techniques that are supposed to be used with each type of difficult customer. Implement the business’s policies in working with the customer. You will be evaluated using the rubric provided in Task 1.

    Career-Technical Student Organization Activity - Option 3

    Judges should role-play the part of a difficult customer whom the student might well encounter at work. The customer types and appropriate actions for the student to take are identified in the attached handout. Judges should review those actions and familiarize yourself with the rubric. Judges should collaborate with the other “customers” to create five situations, one for each type of difficult customer. All judges/customers should then use those five situations in the role-play, varying the situation from one student to the next. At the conclusion of the role-play, judges should rate the student’s performance using the rubric provided in Task 1.

    You will be role-playing a situation with a difficult customer whom you might encounter at work. The customer represents one of the following types of difficult customers: disagreeable, dishonest, domineering/superior, slow/methodical, or suspicious. To prepare for the encounter, review the techniques that are supposed to be used with each type of difficult customer and the business’s policies. They are:

    •     Products will be accepted for exchange or refund only when accompanied by a sales receipt.

    •     Refunds are given up to 30 days after a purchase.

    •     A credit to a customer’s account will be issued for sale items that are returned.

    •     You cannot make cash refunds. Those must be obtained through the manager or credit office by presenting the sales receipt and product.

    •     Goods with obvious signs of wear and tear cannot be returned.

    •     Salespeople should contact security when they suspect a customer of shoplifting. They should watch the customer closely but not accuse the customer of shoplifting.

    •     Customer satisfaction is our goal!

    Handle the situation, ending the interaction with a satisfied customer.

    Customer Type: Disagreeable

     

     

    Actions to Take:

     

     

    1.

    Serve promptly.

    8.  Remain positive and pleasant.

    2.

    Give special attention.

    9.  Be sincere and respectful.

    3.

    Listen carefully.

    10. Base presentation on points of

    4.

    Don’t argue or interrupt.

    agreement.

    5.

    Agree when possible.

    11. Use the “yes, but” method.

    6.

    Be patient and understanding.

    12. Do not press for a decision.

    7.

    Do not act offended.

     

     

    Customer Type: Domineering/Superior

     

     

    Actions to Take:

     

     

    1.

    Let customers do the talking.

    5.

    Ask their advice.

    2.

    Listen respectfully and attentively.

    6.

    Consult them on details.

    3.

    Do not be offended or intimidated.

    7.

    Compliment and praise them.

    4.

    Keep customers’ attention centered on

    8.

    Provide correct information.

     

    good or service.

    9.

    Be brief.

    Customer Type: Suspicious

     

     

    Actions to Take:

     

     

    1.

    Be conservative.

    8.

    Explain guarantees, features, and

    2.

    Stick with facts.

     

    benefits.

    3.

    Be frank and patient.

    9.

    Demonstrate and re-demonstrate.

    4.

    Don’t push or add pressure.

    10.

    Be honest and sincere in answering

    5.

    Guide and lead.

     

    even the most trivial questions.

    6.

    Never argue.

    11.

    Question tactfully to determine why

    7.

    Admit limitations.

     

    customers are suspicious or skeptical.

    Customer Type: Slow/Methodical

     

     

    Actions to Take:

     

     

    1.

    Be patient.

    7.

    Help them to feel comfortable about

    2.

    Do not show too many items.

     

    purchase.

    3.

    Narrow choices quickly.

    8.

    Emphasize choice to which customers

    4.

    Get clients to agree to key selling points.

     

    keep returning.

    5.

    Draw out information.

    9.

    Summarize benefits.

    6.

    Demonstrate products carefully.

    10.

    Guide customers to a close.

    Customer Type: Dishonest

     

     

    Actions to Take:

     

     

    1.

    Observe closely.

    4.   Know whom and when to call for

    2.

    Avoid a confrontation.

     

    assistance.

    3.

    Remain calm.