"Dealing with aggressive customers" is the buzz phrase among small business owners these days. And with good reason. Businesses and their customers are becoming ever more complex and volatile. We see competition from all directions: retail, services, entertainment, telecommunications. And in every area of business activity, the client gets tougher and the potential for conflict or injury is ever greater.
Employee behavior is another area where the client-employee relationship plays an increasingly important role. Customer service personnel dealing with this all the time has to be taught and disciplined on dealing with aggressive customers and how to avoid client and employee burnout. Often times some clever, feigned compassion or clever commentary from customer service employees can result in clients getting more aggressive. The employee who knows best how to handle tough, challenging clients will probably do the best in a difficult situation. However, there is a flip side and that is sometimes employees, unknowingly, may be hostile or abusive. Dealing with this difficult but necessary reality is an ongoing process of development for all employees, supervisors and managers.
Many people have been happy at some point in their life to work in an atmosphere where customers are treated fairly, both physically and verbally. This is a rare kind of place to find yourself on the receiving end of unkind or uncaring customers. I've seen too many bosses, managers or service employees treat their angry, upset or verbally venting customers with indifference or contempt. I've seen too many bosses who make things even more difficult by making it clear that if you keep on acting like that you'll get fired. The irony is that these same people are the ones who go out and look for customers to sell more products or services to.
Dealing with angry customers takes understanding and patience. Most often, employees are fired or threatened because they showed their true colors-unfairness and aggression toward other customers. Anger management classes can help in this process by teaching how to respond to customers' anger-by explaining the mechanics of your actions and reassuring the customer that you truly do care about them. This is often an extremely difficult process, as our society and culture is built around the idea that customers are always right and those who act in a way that makes customers angry have shown their true colors-ignorance of the law and/or an unwillingness to follow rules.
There are many ways to respond to an angry client. You can offer them a cup of coffee or a cold drink, which usually does the trick. You can also politely ask them if they would prefer you to speak with an associate before they decide to throw a tantrum or start an attack. The last thing you want to do is grab the offending object and physically remove it from them. Remember, you are in a business to make money and that involves pleasing customers.
In addition to dealing with angry customers, you will be faced with difficult clients who are demanding. You can be easily taken advantage of by some customers. This can lead to hostile customers, throwing items and even physical violence. It is important to be aware and prepared for this possibility. You need to understand that there is a difference between appropriate and inappropriate treatment of customers. As an employee, you must exercise due diligence and practice customer service.
If you encounter angry or upset customers, try not to blame them for their emotions. If you allow yourself to be upset for no apparent reason, you are likely to create more problems for yourself and everyone else in the store. Customers don't like being judged and treated unfairly, and most of them learn quickly when they are treated badly or incorrectly. If you are unable to control your emotions when you are dealing with customers, it is likely that they will treat you poorly. In order to be successful as an employee, you need to know your limits and be self-aware at all times.
When dealing with customers who display aggressive behavior, you must first remain calm and polite. Do not retaliate in any way. This would only make things worse and cause customers to become even more irritated. Remember, the goal is always to help your customers and keeping calm and respecting the feelings of others is key.