How to Deal With Verbally Abusive Customers

Any business owner, customer service associate or salesperson has countless interactions with customers from day to day. Some interactions may be perfectly pleasant while others may arise out of some frustration on the part of the customer. Though most customers just want to find a solution to their problem and will respond well when treated with fairness and attentiveness, others may become quite irate and abusive. There’s a difference between assertive customers who are determined to solve their problem and those who threaten, yell and become aggressive. So how do you deal with verbally abusive customers in an effective manner? Here are 4 main tips for doing so:

Maintain a Calm Demeanor

When a customer is getting heated, avoid escalating the situation even further by losing your own cool. It’s a little tricky because as a salesperson, you can’t just walk away during an interaction with a customer, but avoid raising your voice and maintain a level head. Resist any temptation to resort to sarcasm or mocking during a frustrating encounter as this will only serve to aggravate the customer further.

Be Aware of Your Body Language

Though you may not be matching a customer’s level of aggression with your voice, make sure your body language isn’t sending a message of defiance or indifference. An angry customer will only become more so if they see you react to their frustration with furrowed brows, clenched fists, hands on your hips or, probably worst of all, if you roll your eyes in reaction to their claims.

Really Listen and Seek to Understand

Many salespeople have been surprised to discover how quickly a heated interaction can de-escalate when a customer feels as though they are really being heard. Make a sincere effort to understand the customer, even if their request seems unreasonable or small in comparison to their level of anger. They may just need to vent and feel like their voice is heard. Perhaps they have gotten the runaround from others or have spent lots of time on hold or trying to find a solution and are feeling angry. Maintain eye contact, nod in response and use phrases like, “I can see why you’re frustrated,” or, “I want to help you”.

Offer Solutions

After really hearing the customer’s complaint and allowing them to get their frustration off their chest, offer up some solutions to try to resolve the issue. Assure the customer that you want to assist them and you’ll do what you can to remedy the situation by finding a solution that agreeable for both parties. Look for a compromise that both of you can agree upon while calmly reminding the customer of the company guidelines and business practices.

Remember that sometimes, despite your best efforts to remain calm, helpful and professional, some customers refuse to be pacified. If a customer threatens you physically or threatens to do damage to the business, you can take the proper measures to protect yourself and company assets. Maintaining client relations can sometimes be tricky, but more often than not, a calm and helpful persona and a willingness to really listen and assist will go a long way in ensuring the satisfaction of most customers.

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