8.5.22

How to Handle a Situation with Rude Customers

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An exhausted business owner leans against a counter as he looks over his shoulder at a crowd of demanding customers.
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What to do when someone is disrespectful to you or your employees.

Every worker deserves respect, and most people treat those in service roles well. However, many retail and service workers report increased hostility from customers. In fact, some reports point to the abuse of workers as part of the reason for the current labor shortage. Here’s what to do if you encounter a rude customer.

Remain calm

It’s not always easy to remain calm when someone is shouting at you or insulting you, but losing your cool will only make the situation worse. And, you don’t want to be in the next viral video losing your temper.

Take a deep breath. Don’t take the customer’s rudeness personally. When you respond, speak a bit slower. Be mindful of your tone of voice. Remember, people often mirror behavior. Your calm demeanor may influence the rude customer to calm themselves down.

What to say

What you say to a rude customer can help de-escalate the situation. Many strategists  advise showing empathy. Let the customer know that they’re seen and heard. A phrase like, “I’m sorry about the confusion here, let’s sort this out together,” may be enough to get things on a positive track.

Distinguish between a legitimate complaint and rudeness. Complaints should be welcomed as they often help businesses improve.

Be candid about what can or cannot be done. If an item is out of stock, let them know when you expect the next delivery. If a customer demands something you don’t stock or a service you don’t provide, suggest another vendor who can help them.

If the customer’s rudeness is rooted in something you don’t offer, genuinely compliment them for the idea and thank them for their suggestion.

Maintain respectful boundaries

In many cases, a rude customer will settle down when they realize the other person is actively listening and cares about the situation. However, if a customer continues to berate, insult or threaten violence, you don’t have to accept the behavior.

There are legal limits as to when a business can refuse service. You can’t refuse service based on any of the following: gender identity, disability, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, sex, color, or race. However, you can turn away customers who are threatening or disruptive.

If someone threatens your well-being or that of others, politely explain why you won’t serve them and request that they leave. If they refuse, call law enforcement to handle the situation.

Do you have business banking questions? Contact our knowledgeable business development managers online or call 800-991-2221. We’re also available to help in person at your local Consumers office.

Consumers business services

Do you have business banking questions? Contact our knowledgeable business development managers.

Learn more.

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