We don’t like to talk about it, but it happens more often than you’d think: Emotions run high, and a customer hurls an ugly, personal insult at you during a customer service interaction.
The insult hurts, it makes you feel angry, and it seems completely unwarranted. Even a usually level-headed person might feel unsure of what to do next or how to react.
When a customer insults you, there is a general plan to follow to ensure the interaction is kept as short as possible and can help ensure the incident doesn’t escalate.
In this post, we’ll talk about the actions you should take after a customer insults you to keep things under control.
What To Do If a Customer Insults You
Step 1: Try to ignore it
The first tool for dealing with customer insults in your customer service tool belt should be ignoring the insult. When you work with the public, it’s important to understand and remember that everyone can experience momentary lapses in control or can be subject to an angry outburst after a hard day.
Try to be understanding and let the insult pass ‘unnoticed’ by you.
Step 2: Get some perspective
Realize that the customers’ insult is not about you at all. You don’t know this person, and they don’t know you. You simply represent a company that your customer is currently frustrated or unhappy with. You are simply the main point of contact.
Get some perspective before you react to a customer’s insult–keep your own emotions out of it, remain as objective as you can, and you’ll feel much better.
Step 3: Always work toward diffusion
Even if the customer’s words have made you angry and you’d like to argue or exchange insults, don’t do it! Your goal during an interaction like this should always be diffusing the incident, not proving that you are right or making your personal opinion on something known.
You will be able to shorten the incident and increase the customer’s own satisfaction if you just work toward diffusing the situation. You can do this by sincerely apologizing, using active listening, and letting the customer know you understand.
Step 4: Stay positive
Ignoring insults, diffusing the situation, getting perspective–none of these include being negative or giving off an annoyed vibe to the customer. Even when a customer seems angry, you should stay positive and offer them support through the interaction.
If they personally insult you and it is impossible to remain positive after such an insult, simply refer to step 5.
Step 5: End the exchange
If your positive and diffusive tactics just aren’t working, you need to move toward ending the exchange. Be firm, but polite, never rude or dismissive.
You can say something like, “I understand how upset you are. I would like to transfer you to my supervisor to see if she can better assist you.”
— Conversational (@Conrecept) February 5, 2016