We’ve all experienced it. A disgruntled customer with no good words to say, only negativity and a damning address.
One of the most frustrating things about the customer service industry, no matter if you’re customer facing, or in office-based position, is rude customers. Their words can seriously affect performance and cause you to question your own abilities.
So how do you handle it?
Human relationships are subject to conflict somewhere down the line. It’s natural. Some people can handle disappointment better than others whilst there are those that need to express their emotions and release their anger immediately without thinking about the consequences. But at what cost should it be?
A typical, and often standard, interview question is: “How do you manage rude, aggressive, or difficult customers?” But should there even be a need for this question at all? It’s a hard one to answer because you can never know the severity of the situation that you might face. You’d like to think that you’d stay calm and allow your customer to vent before providing a resolution. The reality is often far from this.
Should you really have to worry that one day you might take a customer call in which you are subjected to such behaviour?
When I think back to the difficult interactions I’ve had with customers, they have either come through frustration regarding business policies or delays in the receipt of goods. I have often wondered what the customer believes they can ascertain through their abusive stance as often a customer service advisor, and even the department manager, cannot change what a company has in place. Delays are natural and usually outside of the customer service department’s control. You are both a messenger and a sounding board for any issues that arise.
The title of this article is inspired by an interaction I recently had with a disgruntled caller. They were upset that the business couldn’t accommodate their order due to minimum order values. They questioned my ability because I could not give them the answer they wanted to hear and advised that they would seek an audience with one of the directors of the company, but not before completely belittling me in the process.
I am a supervisor with a few years behind me in experience, but this never gets any easier. I pride myself on being firm and fair in all areas of interaction but sometimes this is not enough to appease a customer. The uncomfortable fact is that you can be as customer focused as you wish, but you will not always be able to help.
But, in answer to my disgruntled caller’s question, yes, I have had customer service training and I am forever learning and evolving to provide the best customer service that I can as well as encouraging those around me to be the same.
Rudeness has no place in any situation but especially in our day-to-day livelihoods. Customer service professionals deserve better, and customers need to realise they’re speaking to another human who also has feelings.
About the Author
Tabitha Langley is a technical customer service specialist working in the security industry. She has a background in manufacturing environments within supply chain, operations and technical support. Tabitha can be found on LinkedIn.