Customer Service: Dealing With Unruly Customers

To date, I have been in the field of retail for 5 years. And in that span of time, I have had my share of unruly customers. Oftentimes, people just want to get what they want. They want to get it immediately.

To date, I have been in the field of retail for 5 years. And in that span of time, I have had my share of unruly customers. Oftentimes, people just want to get what they want. They want to get it immediately. And they want to get it right the first time. Speed and accuracy, that’s what they want. Heck! That’s what everyone wants. It can be awfully frustrating and stressful to deal with customers who are adamant, rude, and plain in your face nasty. There are some things you can do to alleviate the condition for yourself. Here they are.

First Rule: Keep calm and maintain your composure. Nonverbal communication is louder than any word that can be said. So remember, do not roll your eyes or heave a sigh, basically do not show any indication that may be construed as poor customer service. Try not to translate the ‘I do not want to be bothered’ feeling towards the customers. Just remember this is your job; the job that allows you to (barely) make ends meet.

You must remain professional, whether the customer is rude or not, nobody can deny appreciation and approval from a job performed with utmost professionalism. Another good reason for a professional behavior is that when a customer chooses to complain, they will not have any justifiable reason to criticize your conduct.

Second Rule: Don’t take it personally. Well, unless the customer is downright insulting or violent, there’s no need for you to get upset or offended. Just suppose that your unruly customers have had a bad, a very bad day, or probably having a bad life. Odds are, whatever they’re upset about possibly isn’t the actual issue. Maybe they had a rough time growing up, who knows? Point is, unless the customer attacked you personally, in which case you should call your immediate supervisor, do not get offended.

Third Rule: Listen and listen very carefully. One of the worst things you can do to customers is to ignore them. Doing this will only fuel the already irate disposition of the customers. Pay particular attention to what they are saying and make sure you understand exactly what they want. Allow them to blow off steam before you go back and talk again. Tell them that their concerns are heard and that you heard precisely what they said.

Fourth Rule: Be polite, though remain firm. There are various occasions when customers demand for discounts, exchanges, or returns that they were not entitled to. I have had to courteously explain the most essential company policy and why their demands cannot be granted. If the customer is being insistent and loud-mouthed, sounding hesitant and uncertain of yourself will not help. You have to be assertive but not disrespectful.

Fifth Rule: Do not argue with the customer—ever. ‘The customer is always right.’ Yes, even if he’s wrong, he’s still right. Why? Because the customer does not know the company policy. He does not see the yawning gap filled with policies existing in between what he wants and what service or products the company can provide. If the customer does not like the policy, there is nothing more to explain. Arguing with him is pointless. Not to mention the effort and time wasted in doing such. After a reasonable effort to speak with the customer has failed, it is time to call in backup, put into practice the Sixth Rule.

Sixth Rule: Call your supervisor. There have been many times when my supervisor told the same explanation I gave to the customer. And to be honest, it feels good when those things happen. And usually, the customers begin to back down. If they are still insistent, the only thing they can do is to complain to the execs of the company.

And more often than not, corporate will simply shrug it off. Or for those really lucky, they will be offered a consolation like a coupon. From time to time, some supervisors and managers bend the rules just to get rid of the irate customer. I do not always agree on how the situations were handled, but at least I will not have deal with them myself.

So, there it is, my list on how to deal with rude customers. Anyone in the field of customer service is bound to have to deal with irate customers who just do not want to cooperate. Listening attentively, communicating well, and maintaining a level of professionalism will certainly help. When uncertain, call the supervisor or the manager.

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Posted on Dec 25, 2009
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