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Handling Irate Customers

Handling Irate Customers

Handling irate customers is all about gaining more control over your own behavior and emotions. Too many service professionals view irate behavior as “the problem” and thereby attempt to fix the customer’s behavior.

The most stressed service professionals are those who misunderstand the importance of self-control and personal responsibility.

Minimizing stress begins with rational thoughts about what is within your sphere of control. Since you can not control the customer’s behavior, then the focus must be emphasized on things which are within your sphere of control – namely your response to events.

The single, most significant and proactive stress-minimizing tactic is the Split Second Response, which begins with the pause. In the absence of this, service professionals often say or do something they might regret later. The pause enables you to size up a situation and consider what service options might work best.

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Along with the pause, you should take a deep breath and think rationally about what to do or say next. Both the pause and a deep breath will enhance rational thinking. While this sounds basic, rational thinking is a vital element in a constructive response.

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There is no place for anger when serving customers. Anger might seem appropriate as a way to even the score against a difficult customer. Yet, once you are able to compose yourself, you’ll realize that you were in the wrong.

But, by then, it is too late. You can not take back angry words that were hurled like darts at your customer.  When a service professional gets angry, he or she will make the best speech that they’ll ever regret.

The fight or flight response manifests itself in interesting and peculiar behaviors.

While it is not responsible to fight with or flee from customers, the inability to cope with unpleasant circumstances might lead to psychological attempts to do so.

Psychological flight manifests itself as apathy or discourteous behavior. This type of conduct creates distance between you and your customer and is contrary to the practice of building closer relationships through empathy and genuine concern.

Psychological fight might be exhibited as aggressive or retaliatory behavior, which is unacceptable in an industry where it is essential to use restraint rather than retaliation. Psychological fight occurs when service professionals blurt snippy remarks, a loud sigh and a negative tone of voice.

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Service professionals will be rewarded for learning how to suspend their anger. How? Perhaps the biggest benefit is the additional creativity. Did you ever notice that your best ideas come when you are the most relaxed?

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Steve Coscia

The road from professional musician to thirty-year customer service veteran to best-selling author and speaker is not a typical career path, but Steve Coscia may have started a new trend.

Coscia is one of the most widely published and quoted authorities in the customer service industry. He has published more than 200 articles, four books and a series of training DVDs. His college curriculum is taught at institutions of higher learning throughout the United States and Canada.

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. Hi Steve,
    I hope you are doing well!

    Great blog! I’ll try to keep some of your points in mind next time I have an irate customer.

    Roland says Hi.

    Hope to see you soon. Take care and God bless.

    1. Hi Maggie, It’s always good to hear from you. Blessings on you too. Tell Roland that I’ll be in San Antonio soon. One of these days, I’ll get farther south to Palmhurst.

  2. Hello Steve,
    I have used your technique on many occasions it certainly works. Always enjoy getting your tips and following your travels.
    If anyone is looking for 1st class training check out Steve’s material and bring him to your business if you get the chance, we did and it was well worth the expense.

    Best regards,

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