If you’ve had any experience in the customer service industry, you know first hand just how ruthless customers can sometimes be. While there are certainly plenty of individuals who are respectful, courteous, and kind, it only takes one rude customer to overshadow the others and stretch your patience thin. What’s worse than dealing with someone who’s disrespectful, however, is trying to communicate with client who chooses to be verbally abusive.
This, unfortunately, is part of the job. And though these customers might do everything in their power to threaten or belittle you, as long as you’re prepared with these four effective strategies and techniques, you’ll be able to confidently work past their anger to find a solution that works for everyone.
Strategy 1: Stay Calm
It’s human nature to instinctively get defensive when being attacked. However, if there is ever a time when you shouldn’t get defensive or return someone’s anger, it’s when you’re dealing with an upset, verbally abusive customer. If the customer is yelling, swearing, or being otherwise profane, take a deep breath and remember that they are human too. You have no idea what types of things they are dealing with in their personal life. Responding in an aggressive manner will only make the situation worse and lessen your chances for a positive outcome.
Strategy 2: Know When to Compromise
Sometimes no matter how well you explain things or how patient you are, the customer will simply never be satisfied. So, instead of repeating the same process over and over again and expecting a different outcome, know when it’s time to give in and budge a little. Remember that by compromising with an unruly customer, you’ll be able to move on to the important, productive customer relationships that also need your attention, you’ll also diminish the risks of getting negative referrals.
Strategy 3: Listen vs. Hear
To listen to your customer is one thing; to hear them is completely different. Listening involves identifying your customer’s chief complaint and responding accordingly. Hearing you customer means deriving meaning from the things they might not be blatantly verbalizing. By hearing what your customer is saying, regardless of the tone in which it’s delivered, you’ll be able to better empathize and identify with your customer’s issue. More often than not, this simple technique alone will help your customer calm down and realize that you’re only here to help.
Strategy 4: Take Precautionary Steps
If you’ve tried all of the aforementioned strategies and are still dealing with a verbally abusive customer, you have the right to issue them a warning. Advise them that you will not tolerate being spoken to in a disrespectful manner and remind them that you’re doing your best to help. Warn them that if their attitude continues as such, you’ll be forced to terminate the call or call security if you’re communicating in person. If you are uncomfortable with issuing the customer a warning, you can also transfer the call to your manager or a coworker who has more experience dealing with angry customers.
Finally, if your warning proved ineffective and you aren’t able to transfer the call, it’s time to terminate the discussion. Before you hang up you might politely explain to the customer that you feel you’ve done everything within your power to resolve the issue and that you’re not comfortable proceeding with the conversation any further.
Regardless of if you have to terminate a call or end up resolving the issue, dealing with a verbally abusive customer can be pretty discouraging. However, you must constantly remind yourself of why you’re in this line of work in the first place: to help people – and unfortunately you can’t help them all. Remember to keep your head up and stay positive, there are hundreds of grateful customers who appreciate what you do.
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