When Customers Behave Badly: Ways To Respond

publication date: Jul 12, 2021
author/source: Mihir Korke


Customers' expectations of the service they will receive have increased; more than 50% of all customers say they expect higher-quality service than they did a year ago. While 4 in 5 say that companies are meeting their customer service expectations, this also means that when a customer is unhappy, you're more likely to hear about it.

Reasons Why Customers May Behave Badly

  • They feel angry, upset, or frustrated due to personal circumstances
  • They feel they are not being listened to/heard by employees
  • They are more reactive because of what's happening in the world
  • They are having a bad day
  • They receive poor quality customer service
  • They have strong emotions about a policy with which they don't agree

How to Help Prevent an Altercation

  • Communicate business policies frequently and consistently
  • Use social media and digital newsletters to keep customers informed
  • Post easy-to-read signage about policies at entrance(s)

Ways to Handle a Conflict With a Customer

  • Rely on managers. Your managers are better equipped than your employees to address customer conflicts; have a manager handle the latter whenever possible.
  • Listen closely. Give the customer your focused, undistracted attention. Listen carefully to understand his or her concerns.
  • Demonstrate your understanding. Restate the customers' concern to show that you are paying attention. Show empathy and convey that you understand their emotions.
  • Attempt to deescalate. Maintain your calm while you explain the company policies, and offer customer the opportunity to comply with them.
  • Stay in control. If customer won't comply, remain calm – even if you must ask him or her to leave.

While communicating your business policies widely can help reduce the risk of customer conflict, some altercations are unavoidable. Training your staff to handle customer disagreements can help reduce any stress your employees may experience. And, training improves your chances of being able to salvage the relationship with the distressed customer.

Mihir KorkeMihir Korke is Head of Acquisition at Clover Network, a leader in small business credit card processing and POS systems. Clover specializes in restaurant, retail, and personal and professional service payment solutions. With desktop and mobile POS systems, contactless payments, solutions for curbside pickup and online ordering, loyalty and rewards, Clover has multiple solutions to meet your business's needs.