Dealing with rude or angry customers

Working in a showroom you come across a wide variety of customers and personalities. Many of the people you meet are extremely nice. Sometimes they are wonderful or even awesome. However the ones that seem to stand out in our minds usually seem to be on the opposite end of the spectrum from wonderful and awesome.

Encountering rude or unsatisfied customers comes with the territory when working in a customer service-related job or industry. I honestly feel dealing with an angry or rude customer is one of the hardest part of our jobs within a showroom. Customers get rude or angry for a variety of reasons, some justified, some not. But since you are in the business to serve your customers, It's important to know how to remain calm and resolve the issue without letting it affect your job performance. How you respond can make the difference between a customer who feels satisfied with the resolution and the ones who vow never to patronize your showroom again. Here are a few tips on how to deal with rude customers.

Keep smiling

It's important to remain polite and professional — no matter how belligerent a customer gets. Keeping a smile on your face will help keep your attitude neutral and polite if you're dealing with the customer in person and make your voice sound pleasant over the phone. Also while you smile keep your ear and mind on the issue stated.

Control your emotions, remain calm

Never yell at a rude customer or start to cry due to a customer's words or behavior. When a customer starts yelling or being otherwise rude, there is nothing to be gained by responding in a similar manner. In fact, that will probably escalate hostilities and will cause you to lose control of the situation. Maintain control of yourself, even if the customer’s tirade makes you feel like yelling or committing homicide. You can have these thoughts in your head, but keep them in check and avoid a life wearing orange jumpsuits.

Let the customers talk, and use your listening skills

The first thing an angry customer wants is to vent. To do so, they need someone to listen and, for better or worse, you are that person. Let them get rid of some of that negative energy. Hear them out. Listening patiently can defuse a situation, as long as the customer feels acknowledged in his or her complaint. Ask leading questions to allow the customer to talk more so you can gather more "facts." Rude customers could be acting that way because they feel mistreated, cheated or, possibly, the customer service they've received in the past was unsatisfactory.

Avoid interrupting ranting customers unless they become verbally abusive. This will make them angrier. When they are done talking, summarize what you’ve heard and ask any questions to further clarify their complaint. Body language can be critically important here. Keep eye contact. Stand or sit up straight. Keep your arms uncrossed. Show how closely you’re paying attention to their problem.

Apologize gracefully and validate their concerns

Whether the customer’s complaint is legitimate or not is really irrelevant. If you want them to remain a customer, you need to express an apology for the problem they are having (or perceive to be having). Tell the customers you're sorry they are upset or you're sorry they had a bad experience. This lets the customers feel that you're listening and are sympathetic without admitting any wrongdoing on behalf of yourself or your company. It will defuse the rudeness so you can get to the real problem. Even if you do not want to retain their business, keep in mind you do not want someone speaking badly of your showroom to all their friends and family.

Maintain a neutral tone of voice

Raising your voice in anger or to talk over a customer will only result in a shouting match and won't resolve anything. Maintain even breaths in and out and focus on keeping your voice calm and composed when you speak to the customer.

Get to the issue

The real problem is at the heart of the customer's rudeness. Jot down notes while the customer is talking so you can direct the conversation toward resolving the real issue. Listening actively for the reason behind the customer's rudeness will help you ignore insults and show the customer you can't be affected by rudeness or condescension.

Counteract the rude behavior

Avoid responding to a customer's rudeness with negative comments. Tell the customer you appreciate his or her honesty and you want to try to make the next experience better. Positive wording will steer the conversation away from angry, rude comments.

Find a solution

Once you understand why the customer is unhappy, it is time to offer a solution. Ask them what they feel should be done or put forward your own fair and realistic answer to the problem. In most cases, that’s all the customer is looking for and may result in providing some degree of satisfaction.

Remember that it’s not personal

The customer is being rude to you in the context of your job, not to you personally. Keep rude comments in the perspective of your job and don't take the customer's comments or actions personally.

Take a few minutes to yourself

After the situation has been resolved and the customer is on their way, it’s helpful for you to take your own “time-out.” Even if you’ve handled the situation in the most professional way possible, it’s still a stressful experience. Rather than let that stress linger inside you, take a short walk, treat yourself to a snack or find someone to talk to who makes you laugh. Then you’ll be ready to once again engage with your customers.

I realize that advice is much easier to give then to follow at times. I have calmed down many customers over the years and a had a few push me to my limits. I can tell you that lowering to the level of a rude customer just is not worth it. You end up regretting it afterwords, even if you were right. So do the right thing and always take the high road. Trust me, the view is better.

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