First and foremost - listen. Do not try to talk over the customer or argue with them.
Let the customer have their say, even if you know what they are going to say next, and even if they may not have all the information or be mistaken. As you listen, take the opportunity to build rapport with the customer. Build rapport through empathy. Put yourself in the customer's shoes. Echo back the source of their frustration and show that you understand their position and situation.
If you can identify with a customer's issue, it will help calm them down. If you verbally "nod" during the call, the customer will feel better understood. Lower your voice. If the customer gets louder, start speaking more slowly and in a lower tone. Your calm demeanor will reflect on them and will help them to settle down. As you approach the situation with a calm, clear mind, unaffected by the customer's tone or volume, anger will generally dissipate. Assume all your customers are watching.
Pretend you are not talking only to the customer but to an audience that is watching the interaction. This shift in perspective can provide an emotional buffer if the customer is being verbally abusive and will allow you to think more clearly when responding. Since an unruly customer can be a negative referral, assuming they'll repeat the conversation to other potential customers can help ensure you've done your best to address their concerns in a calming way.
Know when to give in. If not satisfying the customer is going to take two hours and a bottle of aspirin and risk negative referrals, it is probably better to draw a compromise a bit more in their favor to give you more time to nurture your more productive customer relationships. Keep in mind that the interaction is not typical of most customers, and that you're dealing with an exception. Never get angry or upset. If the customer is swearing or being verbally abusive, take a deep breath and continue as if you didn't hear them. Responding in kind will not solve anything, and it will usually escalate the situation in a negative direction.
And they add that employees should deal with rude customers at the time of the encounter, rather than try to repair a damaged relationship after the event. The consequences of not handling such situations effectively can be serious. The UBC study cites customer incivility as a cause of stress, emotional exhaustion, absenteeism, and reduced performance. And if an employee reacts negatively to the customer, it threatens an organization's reputation for customer service and can impact customer retention. Coming face to face with a raging customer can be a frightening experience.
So, what do you do if you are suddenly on the receiving end of a stream of bile and abuse? Here, we explore five strategies for dealing with rude customers:. The first thing to do is to remain calm and not respond in kind. If you are faced with an unexpected verbal attack, a natural defense mechanism is to "bite back. Your personal safety is paramount.
If you feel threatened by an angry person, trust your instincts and leave the room immediately if you feel unsafe, or if you're too upset to resolve the situation on your own. Ask your boss or a trusted colleague to work with you to resolve the situation. It might also be appropriate to report the incident, if the person is completely out of control. The UBC research suggests that rude customers "can violate an employee's sense of dignity and respect, and trigger negative emotions that can motivate employees to react negatively" toward that customer. So avoid "fighting fire with fire.
Keeping your emotions in check can defuse the encounter. You can find techniques for controlling your feelings and presenting a positive face in challenging circumstances, with our article, Emotional Labor. People often say things online that they'd never say in person, but resist the temptation to give them a "taste of their own medicine. Go for a walk to disperse the tension. Do whatever it takes to gain distance before you hit "send.
Chances are, your customer is angry about a bad product or service and you are just the unfortunate target for her frustration. She wants to know that you understand the inconvenience and disappointment that she's suffered, so you need to show her that you do. Occasionally, though, it really does feel personal. A customer will approach you with the sole purpose of insulting you.
Keep your arms unfolded, and maintain appropriate eye contact to demonstrate your open attitude. If you encounter a loud and abusive customer, respond by speaking softly and with a very steady tone. It can also be used with a customer who you just calmed down through questioning and apology. CCOHS and iHR Solutions, a national leader in helping companies manage Human Risk, have partnered to create and develop online e-courses to help companies and people deal with the difficulties and issues when human interactions go wrong, including hostile and difficult customers, robbery, and hostage situations. Once you have an opportunity to focus on technical and administrative issues, triage the root cause of the problems to determine what went wrong.
Despite the provocation, try to remember that the customer doesn't know you personally. He was probably angry or having a bad day before he met you, and had already decided that he was going to "raise hell" with somebody. In these situations, it doesn't matter who you are, you're just the unlucky one in the firing line.
One way of learning how to deal with rude customers is with Role Playing. Our article can help you use this technique to prepare for a variety of challenging or difficult situations. A rude customer might want to vent her frustration.
Demonstrate that you have taken in what she's said by occasionally reflecting back her words. For example, use phrases like, "So, it sounds like you're saying that," "What I'm hearing is," or, "Is this what you mean?
Keep your arms unfolded, and maintain appropriate eye contact to demonstrate your open attitude. And when you reply, keep your voice low and even, to keep things calm. Saying sorry might run against every instinct you have, if you've been subjected to a barrage of abuse. Finding This Article Useful?
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You may have apologized and be going all out to help your customer, but you don't want him to walk all over you. If you're a team manager, your team member may ask you to step in to help resolve the situation. That means balancing your responsibility for ensuring that you satisfy your customer with the duty of care you have towards your people or your organization.
In situations when a customer's behavior has become unacceptable, it's important to tactfully let her know that she's "crossed a line" — for example, when she's using insulting, threatening or racist words or behavior. Make sure that you agree with your manager or head of department what behaviors are to be deemed unacceptable in this way.
Ask him what he feels would be an acceptable solution. You then have something concrete to work toward. If so, remind him that you want to help, and counter with suggestions that are fair and reasonable, and negotiate towards a mutually acceptable deal. Look for quick, simple solutions.
Many problems that lead to customer rudeness will have occurred before, so your company may have policies that allow you to offer refunds or replacements, for example, with little fuss. Fast resolutions satisfy the customer, minimize stress, and end difficult situations swiftly.
Encountering a rude customer can be a highly stressful experience, so it's important to take a breather afterward. If you can remember that very few of your customers behave in this way, you'll gain some valuable perspective.