When Dealing With Difficult Customers, Safety Comes First – By Violet Dhu

We have all heard the saying that “the customer is always right”. While this may be a general rule in customer service, there is one rule that always overrides it. “Your safety comes first.” Always remember this when you are having difficult conversations or dealing with difficult or angry clients. The bottom line is your safety matters and comes first.

Things go wrong; people make mistakes and customers react in ways that can be
threatening and insulting. We don’t deserve to be spoken to rudely however the reality is
that we encounter people who behave badly. It’s important to have the tools to deal with
these situations effectively.

Here are some helpful tips to help you deal with difficult conversations and difficult customers, while keeping you and your staff safe.

  • Keep calm. People often respond by mirroring the emotions of the other person. Speaking calmly and showing understanding is more likely to help prevent violent and insulting reactions rather than responding with hostility and anger.
  • Do not justify your position. Resolve the dispute in a professional manner while being assertive. Do not call out names or point fingers at the other person in retaliation.
  • Show that you care. Listen to the other person while maintaining eye contact and having an open stance. Acknowledge the reason why they are being difficult and let them know that you are willing to work with him to resolve their issue or complaint.
  • Be honest and truthful. Honesty is always respected. You should tell the client about any limitations or difficulties that may prevent you from resolving the issue. Tell them the exact date of when the issue will be resolved; otherwise, do not promise any deadlines that you know you may not be able to keep.
  • Your goal is to resolve the problem. To help keep your emotions at bay, do not think of the customer as the enemy. Focus on understanding the cause of the problem and working towards fixing it.
  • Do not be afraid to let go. The customer isn’t always right. If the problem proves to be more expensive and exhausting to resolve, you can always decide to let go of the customer. If the problem is taking too much time and resources from your business and if the customer is making your work environment uncomfortable for your staff, it is time to let go of that customer.

Your safety and the safety of the other staff and customers is always your bottom line. There will always be angry customers. You cannot please each and everyone of your customer. What you can do is work with your staff and the customer to resolve any conflict or issues.

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