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Abusive Customers: 3 Great Ways to Back Up Your Team

Learn how to manage abusive customers with compassion and understanding. Also, learn how to rally your team in the face of adversity.
Learn how to manage abusive customers with compassion and understanding. Also, learn how to rally your team in the face of adversity.

Learn how to manage abusive customers with compassion and understanding. Also, learn how to rally your team in the face of adversity.

Abusive customers are putting a strain on service workers.

We’ve all seen viral footage of airline staff being beaten by rowdy clients. Further, we’ve seen restaurant employees being screamed at by enraged patrons.

Today’s world seems to be growing more challenging by the day. As a result, some people vent their rage on the first person they see…which is frequently a service worker. Many workers, however, are no longer prepared to put up with abuse. In addition, employers are increasingly siding with them.

What’s the problem?

Some organizations are rethinking the concept of “the customer is always right.” They are wondering if it is still relevant in today’s world.

Further, they are doing their best to provide more moral support to their employees. In July 2021, one restaurant closed for a “day of compassion” after customers brought employees to tears.

In addition, research in the UK indicates that consumer abuse is on the rise. This, therefore, is prompting company leaders throughout the world to look for tougher protections for their personnel.

Workers have had enough of abusive customers.

In November 2021, the U.S. Labor Department revealed that a record 4.5 million workers left their jobs. Restaurant and healthcare workers were leading the way.

While the reasons behind the Great Resignation are unclear, it shows no signs of abating. Many employees have become burned out over the last three years. Therefore, what’s the bottom line. Businesses must today, more than ever, take care of their employees if they are to stay in business.

Trying to help someone who is venting displeasure, grumbling, or even cursing at you is one of the most difficult tasks in customer service. While it’s rarely personal, it might feel that way when a consumer is upset.

Furthermore, we’re all human beings with human needs. Each of us needs to be validated, heard, and safe. Therefore, that goes for both your customers and your frontline employees.

What should you do, though, if a consumer crosses the line into abusive behavior?

It all boils down to this. In order to provide excellent service to clients, you must first provide excellent service to your staff. Here are some things you can do.

1. Teach your team how to de-escalate situations.

Your body goes into fight-or-flight mode when you’re threatened. As a result, your heartbeat quickens, your face flushes, and you can’t think clearly. In addition, when someone’s tone becomes harsh or you receive a sarcastic text message, this can also happen.

This is how we’re programmed to react. Therefore, when working in customer service, anger control is a need. Thus de-escalation training is essential.

De-escalation techniques aid in the prevention, reduction, and resolution of conflict. Investing time in training customer service representatives, therefore, is crucial. They must have training in the skill of dealing with uncomfortable situations.

This is both empowering for them and beneficial to your consumers. The idea is to think about the customer’s wants and come up with solutions while ensuring the safety of your employees.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Make positive statements.
  • Avoid negative words like never, don’t, and no.
  • Direct the discourse by setting a good tone.
  • Thank the consumer for calling your attention to the problem.
    • Genuine expressions of gratitude help the customer feel heard.
  • Tell them what you’ll do to assist them.
  • Take action.
  • Give them a schedule for follow-up.
    • In addition, break down the measures you’ll take to help them remedy the problem.
  • After you’ve made a commitment to help, keep it.

2. Teach best practices in customer service.

Customers will inevitably put your employees in uncomfortable situations. Making training a priority helps everyone.

Teach both good customer service skills and corporate standards so employees feel empowered to help or draw the line when dealing with irate consumers. In addition, allow them time to remedy a problem. Therefore, they won’t feel compelled to rush through a ticket with an angry consumer.

Consider the following best practices:

  • Allow irritated customers to vent.
    • That doesn’t mean you should let them use profanity or attack you personally — that’s considered abusive behavior.
    • Recognize, however, that rage and irritation are the results of a need not being met.
    • If you listen carefully, you might be able to figure out what’s causing their problem.
  • Apologize.
    • It doesn’t matter if you’ve operated completely within your company’s guidelines if the consumer doesn’t feel heard.
    • Apologize sincerely for whatever went wrong.
    • After that, pay attention to what they have to say.
  • Offer a discount or a refund.
    • If the complaint is reasonable, or if your organization made a mistake, apologize and offer a solution.
    • This could be in the form of a discount, a refund, or a replacement.
    • Therefore, make sure your staff understands how to do this quickly in order to defuse the issue.

3. Prioritize psychological well-being when dealing with abusive customers.

Sometimes folks are simply irrational or looking for a confrontation. When agents sense that their management and their business are on their side, they will perform better. Therefore, it’s critical to have a consistent method for resolving conflicts.

Consider the measures and train your personnel on how to handle stressful client relations.

If a customer starts using profanities, yelling, or becoming threatening, your team should have a policy in place. Make sure that customers are aware of this policy as well.

In addition, make it clear to the customer that you are here to assist them. However, also let them know that if their conduct persists, you will need to discontinue the interaction.

If this doesn’t work, your team has the authority to urge an aggressive customer to leave or to cease a conversation right away. Furthermore, they should also be able to alert management by flagging the customer in your system.

Consider the extent to which you will go in order to save the customer’s business if they’re a repeat offender.

Finally, knowing that your team’s well-being comes first will help them be more effective when dealing with abusive customers.

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