Dealing with Difficult Customers

Customer service representatives often encounter rude or dissatisfied customers when working in a customer-service-related job or industry. It’s important to know how to remain calm and resolve the issue without letting it affect your job performance.

What is the best way of dealing with customers who are rude?

Keep smiling
It’s important to remain polite and professional no matter how belligerent a customer gets. Keeping a smile on your face will help keep your attitude neutral and polite if you’re dealing with the customer in person and make your voice sound pleasant over the phone. Also while you smile keep your ear and mind on the issue stated.

Being courteous in the face of abuse goes a long way to neutralising a customer
Let the customers talk. Ask leading questions to allow the customer to talk more so you can gather more “facts”. Rude customers could be acting that way because they feel mistreated, cheated or, possibly, the customer service they’ve received in the past was unsatisfactory. Handle rude customers by letting them get rid of some of that negative energy. Avoid interrupting ranting customers unless they become verbally abusive. This will make them angrier. Often all customers want is an opportunity to voice their complaints. Trying to talk over the customer only adds more fuel to an already volatile situation.

Apologise to the customer but also assure them you validate their concerns
Tell the customers you’re sorry they are upset or you’re sorry they had a bad experience. This lets the customers feel that you’re listening and are sympathetic without admitting any wrongdoing on behalf of yourself or your company. It will defuse the rudeness so you can get to the real problem. Never trivialize their concern even though it might seem incredibly petty.

Maintain a neutral tone of voice
Raising your voice in anger or to talk over a customer will only result in a shouting match and won’t resolve anything. Maintain even breaths in and out and focus on keeping your voice calm and composed when you speak to the customer. To maintain control of your voice speak in small sentences, have a pause between each one and talk slowly.

Get to the issue
The real problem is at the heart of the customer’s rudeness. Jot down notes while the customer is talking so you can direct the conversation toward resolving the real issue. Listening actively for the reason behind the customer’s rudeness will help you ignore insults and show the customer you can’t be affected by rudeness or condescension. At the completion of the issue being raised by the customer, go over the issues raised in order for you have clarity to decide what actions will be forthcoming. Never promise any resolution to the customer until you have discussed the issue with the manager or owner. Don’t forget you are the messenger.

Control your emotions
Never raise your voice at a rude customer or start to cry due to a customer’s words or behavior. This will cause you to lose control of the situation. Politely put the customer on hold or ask him or her to wait while you ask a supervisor or co-worker for assistance if you feel that you’re going to be unable to deal with the customer calmly.

Counteract the rude behavior
Avoid responding to a customer’s rudeness with negative comments. Tell the customer you appreciate his or her honesty and you want to try to make the next experience better. Positive wording will steer the conversation away from angry, rude comments.

Remember that it’s not personal
The customer is being rude to you in the context of your job, not to you personally. Keep rude comments in the perspective of your job and don’t take the customer’s comments or actions personally.

Australian College