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How do you deal with customers when they are rude ?

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Lisa’s Answer

My approach is always assume people have good intention (there are always exceptions!). Even if someone is complaining about something, most people do it without being rude.

In my experience, customers can come across as rude when they are frustrated or annoyed with a situation - if this is the case, trying to understand what their issue is and listening to them is always a good first step. Depending on what you find out, be clear in what you are going to do to help resolve the situation, and give timelines on this. And follow up - communication is key!

For those customers who are just rude, try and remain calm and patient - by you acting in this manner and remaining professional, serves to show that their behaviour is unacceptable and not needed. And ask for help - escalate to the supervisor/manager on shift - sometimes it doesn't matter what you do, they just want to speak to the 'boss'. By giving a great customer experience, you are not adding poor customer service as another reason for them to be rude!

And try and remember - don't take it personally - you just happen to be there, they would likely act the same way whoever was helping them

There are lots of useful resources online (search for how to deal with rude customers) - they can also give you tips for different types of customers and how to handle them.
Thank you! Britteny L.
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Mary’s Answer

Hi Britteny,

This is a great question. I often wonder why somebody picks a job that requires them to work with people and don't try to master this. When you are in a customer-facing job, the company you are representing relies upon you to treat people with respect and kindness. I have heard many times that "the customer is always right." I don't necessarily believe this, but there are a few things you can do to get beyond rude people and get the job done.

The customer just wants to be heard. If you don't actively listen to them they will often times get more aggravated. If somebody is being rude to you, then ask them how you can help? Try this - "is there something I can do to help?" Then, when they start with their story, always let them finish without interrupting, even if they are being unreasonable. Once they've finished, you can calmly start talking about your solution. If you don't have a solution, then tell them you understand their side, but you can't change the situation. You don't have to agree with them, your goal is to make sure they are heard, and then explain.

If somebody is just simply rude and they have no clear reason for it, then they are probably having a bad day that has nothing to do with you. Just remember, most people have issues they are dealing with and their frustration comes out in many ways. Sometimes they don't even realize they are doing it. My suggestion for this is to smother them with kindness. Don't take offense to it because it is NOT YOU. They are having the bad day and you have to REMOVE EMOTION FROM WORK. I know this sounds odd, but it works. People spend a lot of time at work during the course of their lives, so why make it dramatic and frustrating? I mean try not to take things personally and take out what is emotional in a given situation. What I mean by this, is take out YOUR emotion. If you tend to get upset when somebody else is upset or you take offense to others' hostility or anger, then save this for your personal life. You will be able to diffuse situations quickly if you can do this.

Good luck!
Mary

Thanks for the advice! Britteny L.
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Chuck’s Answer

The first thing I always tell myself when dealing with a rude client is this: "The angry person has the issue, do not take it on." What that means to me is that I should not react in anger to their anger. I do try to de-escalate any rough or frustrating issues through kind and calm words. There are many reasons for this, but the first thing is to allow the person some time to vent, then reassure them that you have heard the complaint, understand their frustration and wish to help them find a resolution that will work. Most often this will help to bring down the heat in terms of the problem, and a normal person will calm down and begin to understand that you are there to help correct the perceived issue. - or whatever is the root cause of their bad behavior.

Note: this works for most normal people who have a sense of empathy and are mostly rational and only occasionally get frustrated. It will not work on every single person, because some people do not know how to turn off their behavior and were never given the proper instruction on how to behave toward others. These people may have some personality, emotional, or other disorders that prevent them from being adults. Unfortunately, in that precise issue, your best bet is to escalate to a colleague or manager for assistance. The ego of the rude customer in that sense will require an ally to help calm things down and prevent you from any harm. Teamwork is helpful in order to restore calm.

In the case of the normal person however, the very fact that the client brought a problem to your attention should be considered a gift. It is negative feedback. If it can be turned around, their embarrassment for the behavior will be enough to either ensure it never occurs again, or they actually go from a rude customer to a regular buyer. They may be smart enough to take the lesson away that this was unwarranted and apologize as well.

If they are rude to the point of potential physical or verbal abuse, grab attention from a colleague, manager or any normal human being nearby and ask the rude person out loud how would they feel if you were their son or daughter being yelled at over a simple mistake? The problem with rude people and crowds are that the rude person thinks they have the upper hand when everyone else stays silent. Most people in that situation are stunned at the behavior as 'that is so wrong' but look for cues from others as to how to respond. They are afraid to speak up and will think they are the only person bothered when no one else says anything. It's a simple human fact, but if they see one person say something they will join in defense of the person being harassed. People don't like rude behavior, but they don't want to be the first to call it out either.

Chuck recommends the following next steps:

Consider thinking of every upset person as an opportunity to make a repeat customer. Win them over.
Crush them with kindness - do not let them win by causing you to become angry or upset.
Remember that as humans, we don't get angry or upset unless we see something we don't like in ourselves in the other person.
Always think of teamwork as a lifeline - if you find the behavior rude, chances are others do as well.
Remember that the person engaging in the behavior is only showing you how truly petty and small they are, you are not the issue, it is their problem.
Thank you for the information! Britteny L.
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Simone’s Answer

When dealing with a rude customer don't ever take it personal. They are not upset with you but with the situation. Just remember you can only control your reaction and response to the situation. Be nice and try to put yourself in the customers shoes. Remember you get more flies with honey than vinegar.
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Nicole’s Answer

Try to assume good intent and empathize if you can. At some point we've all been angry / frustrated. Stay focused on solutions. Ultimately the only thing you can do is try to find steps that can work toward solving their concern. That said, if the customer is just being unreasonable or disrespecting you on a personal level, stay professional and end the interaction as soon as possible.
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Cheryl’s Answer

Hi there! There's so much great advice above already. I try to put myself in their shoes and understand where they are coming from in the situation. And you never know what is going on in someone's life so I try not to take it personally and try not to judge the person on one interaction. They might be having the worst day of their life. I make an extra effort to see if I can change or impact that rudeness to turn a frown into a smile or better yet, laugh.
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Jen’s Answer

I agree with many of the answers above. When I worked in retail, it really helped me to remember that whatever the customer's issue was, it was not about me. Sometimes it was about previous service or an issue with a product, but sometimes I was unable to determine the cause of the customer's rudeness. Like the other responders recommended, I would listen to the person and respond with an apology and an offer to help. If this did not resolve the situation, I would remain polite and bring in additional resources, whether that was my manager or another customer service professional.
I think it helps to remember, too, that each customer is only a few minutes out of your day, and you may only see that customer once. While it may be challenging to put up with that person, it is a temporary situation. By treating that person with respect and acting in a professional manner, you show your manager and coworkers that you are a valuable asset. This can set you up for promotions and/or long term employment with the company. It may also provide you with a network of references for future positions.
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dave’s Answer

I work for Unemployment so you can imagine the calls that I get

typically it is always a good idea to pause and put them on hold (If you can)!

basically you have to try to Deescalate the situation but its not always possible

good luck!!
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Yagmur’s Answer

Hi,

Firstly, never take frustration personally, make sure you try to understand the reason customer is frustrated. Put yourself in the customers position and think if you were in their position, how would you have wanted the issue to be resolved.

Secondly, take a deep breath.

Thirdly, stay focused on the issue that has caused the customers frustration and think of all options to overcome the challenge. Make sure you maintain professional at all times.

However, be aware if there is abuse or violence, react out to support from other colleagues and management.
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Naomi’s Answer

Empathy and patience will go a long to diffuse a situation with a rude customer. Try to take a deep breath and put yourself in their shoes to think how you would like to be treated if you were the customer who is being rude. Likely they just want to vent and be heard. You can listen and acknowledge that you heard them. If they are being abusive, reach out to your management.
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Adam’s Answer

Hello!

This is always a difficult situation AND let me tell you, as long as you are in some type of customer service role, you are going to get rude customers. As a matter of fact, with almost everything we do, we are going to encounter rude people. I like to keep the following in mind:

Try to not react to their rudeness by being rude. This will only intensify the situation. For the most part, there are a few exceptions, many people may not realize that they are being rude or have had a rough day. While this is not an excuse, it's better not to throw it back in their face. No need to take it personally, you are there to do a job, so do your job to the best of your ability while being polite and then wait for the next customer. Usually their rudeness is coming from a point where they think that you or the business has done something wrong. All you can do is try to solve the problem. Once people see that you are trying to help them, they sometimes change their tune. Try listening, repeating their concern and offering any solution that you can. If that is not working you sometimes have to escalate to your supervisor. Sometimes just by listening you can diffuse a lot of situations. People like to be heard and they use any outlet that they can find.

However, please remember that a person should never talk down to you or make it personal. If they are upset because their food is cold or because they didn't get what they ordered, that's one thing. If they do make it personal, you should immediately tell them that you are getting your manager and remove yourself from the situation.

Unfortunately, people can be rude. Sometimes, we listen and we can help. Other times, nothing we do is going to make the person happy. Just remember that as long as you are professional and try to help, there's nothing else you can do. It's not you, it's totally them and try to not let it ruin your day...sometimes that's what people want. Don't let them win!
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Zahid’s Answer

My approach has always been to look past their rudeness and ask what the issue is and offer real solutions to their problem. I never took it personally and you should not either as it is just a job and not something you are personally vested in that you need to put mental stress on yourself.

So if their order at fast food is wrong then let them have their say and apologize for the mishap and offer to have a new order placed for them. I wouldn't even mind throwing in extra fries or something to appease them. With the amount of food that is wasted and thrown away everyday at fast foods, a free fries or burger wont' hurt the bottom line but it will help in a repeat customer.

When I was in retail management, the way I managed rude customers depended a lot on their level of rudeness and the issue they were rude about.

If the was a person upset over something being out of stock and they had coupons and today was the last day to buy them then I would simply apologize for it being it out of stock and offer them a rain check (slip) and they could come next week and buy the product at the same price.

If was a bad product or something then I'd just apologize for the trouble and offer to refund them or exchange it for something else.

If the person was being rude for no reason and threatening then I'd ask them to leave the premise and even call or threaten to call the cops if necessary.

Dealing with customers in a calm manner is the best approach. However, you can deal with them only to a certain degree, and if you feel in danger at any point then back off and ask them to leave or go to back of the work area that they don't have access to, inform the manager and/or call the police.

You can also check this out: 7 Tips for Dealing with Rude Customers
https://blog.hubspot.com/service/rude-customers
Thank you so much! Britteny L.
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Steve’s Answer

When dealing with rude customers you always want to remember they are most likely upset over a situation and not you. I find it best to let them vent and then empathize with their situation and explain to them what you can do to assist. Some times people who are upset need to have a friendly response to reduce their emotion. Stick to facts and policies when explaining what can or can't be done for them. There is a thin line between being angry at a situation and being aggressive or abusive to the person who is trying to assist. Don't be afraid to ask for assistance if a situation gets too intense.
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