How to Handle Rude Customers

How to Handle Rude Customers

Because I have spent many years working in the world of restaurants and retail, I am very aware of the fact that one of the biggest problems for employees in the service industries is rude customers. A customer who becomes irate or irritated and expresses their frustration by yelling at an employee can ruin their day, cause humiliation, or slow down the process of helping other customers. Because this is the case, it is a good idea for employees in the service industry to recognize and implement strategies to help deal with rude customers. Here are three:

1. Maintain Eye Contact With The Customer.

As many people who have worked in service industries know, customers oftentimes become upset and take their frustration out on an employee because they feel dehumanized. This is not surprising given the fact that long lines and/or self-checkout machines often preclude customers from interacting with employees. Moreover, when a customer has a problem and is unable to speak with someone immediately, she or he may feel unvalued. For this reason, making eye contact can help diffuse the customer’s anger because it is generally considered a sign of respect (in Western countries.) In discussing this very thing, eHow writer Ginger Voight notes that “Individuals in Western cultures are trained to look someone in the eye as a form of respect.” Thus making eye contact with a disgruntled customer will likely cause them to feel valued and help dismantle their anger about the issue at hand.

2. Accurately Identify The Problem.

This is very important. If you are dealing with a customer who is angry and you do not accurately identify the source of their discontent, you may begin to resolve an issue that does not exist. For example, you may see a customer approach your checkout line with an angry expression on their face. Perhaps you conclude that the customer who approaches your checkout area is upset because they had to wait in a long line. You then offer a store discount to acquiesce them. However, the customer may have approached your checkout area to return an item and the disgruntled expression on their face could have resulted from the fact that a button popped off when they tried the garment on. If this is the case, they may return the garment and still insist that they get a discount on all future purchases because you offered them a percentage off originally. This is only one of many examples that can be cited regarding the importance of accurately determining the source of your customer’s frustration.

3. Stand Your Ground If You Are Right.

Sometimes customers are upset about things that are ultimately their fault or reflect a lack of understanding regarding company policies. When this is the case, you as the employee should feel confident in not allowing the customer to walk all over you with demands that would cause you to break company policy. Such an incident happened to me several years ago when I was working as a server in a restaurant. My manager had a strict policy regarding giving away free things like drinks, desserts, etc. Unless the customer was a friend of the family or he gave specific instructions for us to not charge for an item, everyone who came in the store had to pay for everything they ate or drank. Once, I had a couple come in and spend a great deal of money on an elaborate meal that included wine and the purchase of expensive meats. At the end of the meal, one of the customers requested a to go sweet tea. I brought her the sweet tea and added it on to the bill. When she saw the bill, she became agitated and suggested that I was somehow incompetent for charging her for the tea after she and her partner had spent so much on the meal. Yet I held my ground and still charged her despite the fact that she was very irritated. When I spoke to my boss about the incident later, he informed me that I did the right thing and her irrational agitation became a running joke between us. In conclusion, make sure that you don’t break company policy and risk losing your job just to please a customer who either doesn’t understand rules and regulations or simply wants you to break them.

As made plain by the information listed above, there are things that employees in the service industries can do to handle rude customers. I believe that implementing the tips and tricks I’ve listed above will greatly help you. Good luck!

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