Customers expect service providers to be polite and courteous. They want to feel like they’re being taken care of, not just another face in the crowd.
And yet many customer-facing professionals have a hard time dealing with rude customers.
What can you do when someone is irate or demanding? How do you deal with a customer who won’t take no for an answer?
In this blog post, we’ll explore tips and strategies for dealing with rude customers so that you don’t let them get under your skin and ruin your day!
How can rude customers affect your business?
On one hand, it’s easy to shrug your shoulders and say, “Oh well. They’re just angry because I wouldn’t give them a refund.”
But when you treat angry customers with disdain, you risk losing their business and many potential customers as well.
Even if the customer doesn’t become a repeat offender, chances are they’ll share their negative experience with their social circles.
You can save yourself from this type of public relations disaster by doing something about the situation before it gets completely out of control.
Remember: how you choose to deal with your customer’s unpleasant attitude can make or break your relationship.
Let’s look at different ways a rude customer can affect your job and your organization.
Rude customers decrease employee satisfaction
When customers are rude to employees, it can lower the employee’s attitude towards their work.
In some cases, employees may feel that they are not appreciated or that their work is not valued.
This can lead to a decrease in motivation and job satisfaction.
Additionally, when customers are rude, it can take up the employee’s time and energy, which could otherwise be put towards other tasks or projects.
Finally, such negative interactions can make the work environment less pleasant and more hostile, which can also lead to increased frustration and stress.
Rude customers can affect your efficiency on the job
When you’re trying to get work done, a customer who’s being rude and disruptive can be extremely distracting.
Rude customers can affect your productivity in several ways:
- Difficult customers can take up your time and energy with their antics.
- They can distract you from helping other customers and completing other important tasks.
- They can make you feel angry and frustrated, which can lead to decreased productivity, low motivation, and job dissatisfaction.
It’s important to know how to handle rude customers, so you can continue to do your job in a professional and efficient manner.
If you wish to handle rude customers in the most effective way, try to understand where they’re coming from.
Understanding how angry customers affect your career, your efficiency, and your company’s bottom line will help you keep your cool and properly handle their bad behavior.
What causes rude customers in customer service?
In a customer service situation, a rude customer may take their anger out on the first person who is there to listen.
Here are 5 reasons why customers may be rude to customer-facing professionals:
1. Lack of attention
Handling rude customers can be tricky. Customers feel they are being ignored or not getting the proper attention they need.
This is especially true in times of stress when something has gone wrong with their service or product.
Sometimes customers feel ignored because they are not being recognized as individuals, especially in a large organization where employees are expected to deal with a large volume of people.
When a customer doesn’t receive personal and prompt assistance, this can lead to them feeling unimportant and unappreciated by the staff.
2. Bad customer service or product
Customers may be rude if they’re experiencing bad customer service or using a product that is not satisfying their needs.
For example, if there are long lines at the bank, customers may feel anxious and agitated, which could lead to them being impolite or short-tempered with their bank tellers.
3. External issues
Sometimes, a rude client might be the result of a problem that has nothing to do with you or your company.
They may have had a bad morning getting into work, their car broke down and they’re late, or they got in a fight with their partner.
As a result, they may take out their frustrations on the first person they see. Learning how to deal with rude customers takes time and practice, but it’s a worthwhile investment for your career success and your wellbeing.
4. Lack of empathy
Different people have different ways of communicating and behaving, which can lead to misunderstandings between staff members and customers, especially when emotions are involved.
Because of this lack of empathy or understanding, the customer’s actions come across as mean and disrespectful. Poor customer service can also lead to rudeness.
If they think you are not doing your job properly, then the customer may voice their opinion. So, empathy is important on both sides.
A lack of empathy from customer service representatives can lead to a lack of respect from the customer. Each customer interaction should be approached with careful attention and respect.
Miscommunication occurs when customers don’t feel that they are being heard by the service representative.
Language barriers, poor communication techniques, and different communication styles can trigger these experiences.
If the customers feel they aren’t being heard or understood by a customer service rep, then they may show their frustration with rude behavior.
Understanding their needs and addressing them properly can help prevent negative customer experiences, which leads to poor communication.
The best attitude to adopt when dealing with rude customers
The best way to deal with rude customers is by showing empathy. Empathy means you try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
You can understand why they’re rude or upset, based on what you know about their situation and life experience.
It doesn’t mean that their behavior is okay, but it does give you a deeper understanding of why they’re acting the way they are.
Remember that you don’t have to put up with rude behavior (and it’s okay for you to let them know when they’ve acted inappropriately).
Even though it can be tiring to deal with rude customers day after day, you can save yourself a lot of stress by simply being empathetic.
However, sometimes this isn’t possible because the customer’s behavior may be too difficult to relate to or rationalize.
This doesn’t mean that you let customers get away with bad behavior. You can still be assertive when necessary, but doing so with empathy prevents you from becoming hostile and defensive.
Understand that no matter how hard you work, some people are never satisfied. It’s important not to take their comments personally.
Effective strategies to handle rude customers
1. Assess the situation and stay calm
The first thing to do when faced with a difficult or complaining customer is to assess the situation.
Ask yourself these questions:
Why are they upset?
How can I help them?
What options do I have to resolve their complaint?
It’s best not to formulate your response until you’ve taken a moment to think about what’s going on and figure out your best course of action.
This will help an angry customer to calm down and feel heard. As long as you’re friendly and respectful, their response to your communication will probably change.
2. Listen and reassure the rude customer
Even if the customer is upset, they’re still your customer, and their concerns matter.
When customers feel like they haven’t been heard or that their problem isn’t being taken seriously, it can make matters worse.
So before you apologize or try to fix the problem, make sure that you’ve heard them out and let them know that you understand their concerns.
This shows the customer that they matter and reassures them that their complaint will be taken care of as quickly as possible.
3. Offer a sincere apology and accept responsibility
Once you have a better understanding of the situation, it’s important to take ownership of the situation at hand.
When you apologize, it does not mean that you are necessarily at fault. It means that you recognize what went wrong and want to rectify the situation.
You could acknowledge the problem and let them know how you plan to solve it or what steps you’re going to take next.
Reassure the customer that their concerns are important to you and that you’re actively working on the problem.
4. Offer a solution or additional help
You may not be able to find an answer right away, or you can let the customer know that you’re doing everything you can to solve the problem.
However, if there is a solution or it’s appropriate at the time, offer options and provide an explanation of how it will work.
Most importantly, don’t ignore or brush off the customer’s concerns.
Offering to escalate their concern to someone who might have more information shows the customer that you care about finding a solution for them.
Always be mindful of your tone so as not to come across as defensive or disconnected from their problem.
If you want to increase customer loyalty, remember that you need to take care of the customers you already have. Loyal customers result in more positive word-of-mouth marketing and sales for the business.
And that starts with doing everything you can to help them, even if it means reaching out to a manager or another department for further assistance.
5. Follow-up with the customer after the situation has been resolved
Even if you were able to take care of the problem, your customer may still feel upset from the negative experience.
It can be helpful to follow up after things have calmed down and let them know their concerns are important to you.
By following up, you show your customer that you really care about them and their experience with your business.
You also give them an opportunity to share any further feedback or concerns, so you can continue to improve the customer experience.
Remember that taking ownership of a situation will often end up helping your business in the long run by building trust and loyalty with the consumer.
Customer complaints are a part of doing business and avoiding them altogether isn’t really an option, but knowing how to handle complaints from rude customers is crucial for success.
With the right approach, you and your team will feel prepared and empowered to do whatever it takes to keep customers happy and coming back for more.
Don’t get personal—stay calm
Trying to turn the conversation into an argument or belittling your customer won’t help. Stay calm and always respond in a professional way.
To stay grounded, it may be helpful to give your customer the benefit of the doubt and assume that they’re not trying to upset you.
It’s easy to get defensive when dealing with irate customers because it can feel like they’re attacking you personally, but professional responses are always better in the long run.
Stay positive and try to find a solution together.
Avoid blame games with a rude customer
Avoid blaming the customer, your colleagues, or the company. Apologize and take responsibility for your actions.
The customer will respect you for it.
If there is a problem with your product, even if it isn’t your fault, it’s always best to own up and apologize on behalf of the company.
Acknowledge that things didn’t go as expected and try to turn the situation into a solution rather than an argument.
Don’t hesitate to escalate calls or requests for help if your employees are unsure of what to do next.
Let them know that you’ll always be there to listen and provide answers as needed.
Prepare scripts for common FAQs
Having a go-to phrase or response to common questions can help you stay on track while answering customers’ questions.
Just make sure to personalize your responses so you’re not reading off a script or sending out generic emails!
Asking clarifying questions will also show the customer that you’re trying to understand their concerns and may even give you more information to work with in resolving the problem.
Be mindful not to ask too many questions, so the customer doesn’t feel like they’re being interrogated or blamed for the problem. Learning how to handle rude customers effectively will make a difference in how they perceive your service, your products, and your overall company.
Invest in customer service training
Customer service training is your best defense against customer complaints. A proactive approach with clear communication can prevent most problems from happening in the first place.
Letting rude customers know that you’re listening and working with them will help reduce negative feedback, which will lead to happier customers, better reviews, and more sales.
Learning how to deal with rude customers will also make your day-to-day business interactions less stressful and more enjoyable.
Customers are not always right, but they will be happier if you listen to what they have to say and work together to resolve concerns.
Learning how to handle complaints effectively can mean the difference between disappointing customers and inspiring loyalty. When you understand what makes rude customers tick and what are the customer pain points, you’ll be more successful at communicating with them and ensuring customer satisfaction.
Try to keep your promises
Keep your promises and do your best to stick to timelines for resolving problems.
While it’s understandable that not every problem can be resolved on the spot, customers are more likely to remain satisfied if they know you’re working hard behind the scenes to make things right.
Even in the worst-case scenario, it’s important to maintain a professional attitude and focus on finding solutions together rather than placing blame or rushing to judgment.
Keeping your cool is fundamental in successfully managing customer complaints.
Above all, remember that your goal is to help customers feel better about their problem, not to win an argument. When you acknowledge the customer’s feelings, they will be more likely to cooperate and work with you on finding potential solutions.
Refer to the product or policy manual whenever necessary.
The solution may be simple once you review the situation, so it’s best to follow your instincts and ask questions before coming to a final conclusion.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to treating customers with respect and professionalism–even if they’re angry or rude.
Remember that you’ll always learn more from negative feedback than positive praise.
Always keep the big picture in mind and use your best judgment when deciding how to proceed.
Thank them for bringing the problem to your attention
Even if all you do is listen and apologize, it’s important to thank customers for sharing their concerns.
A polite response will let them know that you care about what they have to say and are listening carefully.
If the problem requires more time or effort, let the customer know how long it will take to be resolved and contact them frequently to keep them updated on the status.
This shows that you are listening to their concerns and care about their feelings.
Kindness always wins
When it comes to handling complaints, kindness counts.
The most important element in making things right is not how much you give them, it’s how much more you give by taking the time, effort, and understanding to make things right.
People need to know that you’re truly sorry for the inconvenience they’ve experienced and that you have every intention of making amends.
Even if it’s not your fault or responsibility, being courteous goes a long way. In fact, it can be your greatest asset.
Being courteous is a big part of preserving a good company image and reputation.
Even when customers cannot see eye to eye with you, if they still feel respected and heard, they’ll be more likely to keep your business in mind.
Reputation is more important than profit
Customer service training can help improve your company culture, prevent issues before they happen, and ultimately save you money in the long run.
Not only is it more difficult and expensive to attract new customers than retain existing ones.
You don’t want to lose business because of a poorly worded ad or angry review that could have been prevented with better customer service.
Prepare your customer service team
Take the time to learn and train your customer service team on proper customer service techniques.
If you have a formal training course, make sure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities so that each person knows what’s expected of them.
Keep in mind that even if your staff are well trained, it doesn’t mean they’ll always be able to solve problems with every customer, but they will be able to handle complaints and requests more efficiently than without training.
What do you say to a customer who is angry?
The calmer you are, the better. Acknowledge their anger with “I can see why you’re upset” or “I appreciate your frustration with this issue.” If it seems appropriate, apologize for any misunderstandings or mistakes that may have led to the problem.
Examples of things you can say:
“I’m sorry for the mistake. Here’s what we can do to fix this for you.”
“Your feedback is important to us. Let me see what I can do to help you with this request.”
“I’m sorry for the inconvenience. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”
“I can see how that would be frustrating. I will see what I can do to resolve the problem.”
Don’t be aggressive or yell back. Remain calm and speak firmly. If they continue, show empathy and remind them that you are trying to help.
How do you prevent complaints from happening?
Prevention is the best way to handle complaints. Focus on how you can improve your products and services so that you’re not left scrambling to fix an issue after the fact.
Look out for issues that could cause problems for customers, such as faults in a product or unclear instructions. Address any concerns before they have time to become a big issue.
Make sure everyone understands their role in customer service, including who’s responsible for what, and be specific about the kinds of problems or requests that should always be escalated.
If you or a colleague feels unsafe during a customer service interaction, make sure you know the right people to contact.
To learn how to deal with rude customers or train your team, check out our customer service masterclass!