Managing Abusive Customers: Techniques, Safety & Stress Management

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  • 0:03 Customer Service Is Key
  • 0:34 Techniques for…
  • 3:03 Safety First
  • 4:35 Stress Management
  • 5:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Joseph Madison

Joseph received his Doctorate from UMUC in Management. He retired from the Army after 23 years of service, working in intelligence, behavioral health, and entertainment.

Excellent customer service can be challenging when customers are irate, but these issues can be handled without too much stress. This lesson discusses techniques on how to deal with abusive customers, how to stay safe in this situations, and how to handle the stress.

Customer Service Is Key

Whether you work at a department store or your local artisanal oil shop, it is very important to be skilled in customer service. So what is customer service? This is the ability to serve your business or company in personal and pleasant way. However, this is not all. You also need the ability to stay professional in both happy and distressing customer experiences. Respecting yourself and your business will create a level of integrity that customers will naturally see when working with you.

Techniques for Handling Abusive Customers

Customer service requires several traits, like personality, listening, and patience. These skills are even more important when working with irate customers. Unfortunately, whether due to the business or personal reasons, customers will occasionally become angry when working with you. Customers may call in or walk in to your place of employment with completely justified reasons to be angry. This should not change how you help them. The treatment of customers should always be equal, so that all your patronage will know that you will provide the best customer service at all times. This will keep some customers from becoming angry because they do not have a worry of how they will be treated. However, this will not alway eliminate irate people. To handle these challenging individuals, you should use the following techniques:

  • Do not take it personally: Although this is easier said than done, always remember that the customer is upset about the business, not you. Do not use your passion for the product you sell or the passion for your company as fuel to become angry about their accusations. Instead, focus on the kernel of the issue instead of the behavior.

  • Listen: Let the customer vent without responding to their barbs or accusations. Many times, irate individuals will calm down once they can expel their anger. This will allow both you and the customer to talk about the actual issue instead of taking so much time trying to fight through a long tirade.

  • Empathy not sympathy: It is important to empathize with the customer by trying to understand how they feel and why they feel that way. Understanding their side of things can help you communicate more effectively. Sympathy, however, can cloud judgement when dealing with challenging consumers.

  • Apologize: Even if the customer is unfairly angry, you can still apologize for how they feel without taking responsibility for the issue. Hearing an apology can diffuse a tense situation without discrediting you or the business.

  • Explain and outline: Once you have a moment to analyze the issue and determine a plan of action, make sure to outline it clearly and succinctly for the customer. If your only ability is contact management, explain that you will do everything you can within your power and contact management to see what the next steps are. This will give the consumer an idea of your process, which can help.

These techniques can help many angry customers, but not all of them. So, it's also important to remember to be aware of your own safety.

Safety First

When working with customers face to face, there is a small percent of customers that may become emotionally or physically abusive. So, how do you address these issues and keep from being hurt?

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