Like any industry, the service industry comes with advantages and disadvantages. An advantage? You get to make people’s lives a little easier and, in some cases, change their lives completely. A disadvantage? Sometimes you have to deal with rude clients.
What do you do with a rude client? Do you fight fire with fire, ignore their calls or bend to their every demand? No, no, and no.
In this article, we’ll discuss the proper way to deal with rude clients, so they leave satisfied and you leave with both your head and your dignity intact.
Stay calm. Don’t stoop to their level
The most important thing you can do when you’re face to face or phone to phone with an abrasive client is to stay calm. The tendency is to match the client’s tone and volume level in an effort to force him/her into submission. What ends up happening is that two people end up yelling instead of one. Avoid this. Stay calm. Don’t stoop to the client’s level. You’ll be surprised at how effective this approach is to de-escalate a situation.
Don’t make it personal
Equally important is not taking a rude client’s behavior and comments personally. It’s not you, it’s the situation. Realize that your client is reacting out of frustration and that your job is not to get him/her to like you, necessarily, but to solve the problem.
Listen and apologize (if appropriate)
If you discover that their frustration comes from a mishap on your end, apologize and do everything in your power to make it right. If their frustration comes from not understanding how your business operates or unrealistic expectations…don’t apologize. You don’t have to bend to their will. Instead, explain to them that what they’re asking is simply not possible. Sometimes though, an angry customer can shed light on areas of your business that may need improvement. So, listen closely.
Have a backbone
This goes back to what we said about not bending to their will. You’ve got to have a backbone. Just because you’re in the customer service industry doesn’t mean you have to stand there and take verbal abuse. You’re not a doormat. Be firm and let them know that if they continue to speak to you in such a manner, they will be asked to leave or forcibly removed. Only when a clear line of authority and respect has been established can you move on to the next and final step.
Find a solution
Once you de-escalate the situation and order has been established, now you can solve the problem. Sometimes the solution they want is not what they need, but they’ll be less resistant to your solution once things have settled down.
Being in the service industry means dealing with the full spectrum of human emotions—the good, the bad, and the ugly. It takes a strong and patient leader to deal with an unhappy/rude client. But being able to turn someone’s day around for the better, putting a smile on someone’s face…that’s why we do what we do.
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