Updated: Feb 26
By Mehr Lokhandwala
Image via Nextiva
Have you ever walked into a store and seen a customer being incredibly rude to one of the employees? I find that customers often forget that I, too, am a person with feelings. They act entitled as if my only purpose is to serve them.
Working has definitely taught me a lot of skills and put me through a lot of different experiences. However, the one thing I have learnt from working that I will always remember is learning how to deal with rude and nasty customers. Yelling and being disrespectful is not going to fix anything.
The truth is that often customers feel entitled as if they stand above employees. This is a disgusting thought pattern. Shouting at employees when that one item you want is out of stock is honestly not going to fix anything. Just like customers, most employees do not really have any control over the nitty-gritty details.
As an employee, unfortunately, sometimes there is nothing you can do to avoid rude customers, so the best thing you can do is take care of yourself. At the end of the day, a customer is not going to lose anything because of their nasty attitude towards you, but you can lose your job because of them.
First of all, make sure you are calm and can deal with the customer. Oftentimes I find that when I am already unhappy with the way a customer is treating me it is harder to think with a clear head. If need be, find another employee to deal with them while you take a couple of breaths. You can also remind yourself that this customer will leave soon and that you will not have to deal with them any longer. In an article by Mind Tools they say, “When dealing with rude customers, it's crucial to control your own emotions and to counteract inflammatory behavior with calm, considered responses. Try not to take any comments personally.”
Another trick I like to use is to be overly nice. The more rude a customer is the nicer you can be. At some point, this will get really awkward for the customer and they will settle down. Talking in a quirky overly friendly manner may not be your style (as it is not mine either) but I find that it often comes in handy when dealing with entitled customers.
If the issue they are complaining about is a recurring issue then find a way to fix it or to explain to them that there is nothing you can do to change it. I find that this is usually where a supervisor or manager can step in.
Lastly, this is a little trick I learnt from a Work Safe BC seminar; if the customer is asking to speak to the manager and you know that manager is going to give them the same response as you, you can always get one of your coworkers to pose as your manager. Or you yourself could say you are the manager. Keep in mind one should only do this if they are sure their manager would give the same response as them and one knows they wouldn't really get in trouble for it.
Working in customer service can be hard and exhausting, especially when you are being given a hard time. It is important to remember that your sanity and peace of mind is more important than a rude customer. Thus, do what you have to do in order to take care of yourself.
Written by writer Mehr Lokhandwala