It’s happened to most people in customer service – a customer is being rude and for a split second, you forget your goal and resort to responding rudely or making a sarcastic remark. Maybe you accidentally answered the phone in a too-brisk manner.
If you immediately realize the error and are willing to take action to make things right, you can still save the customer service interaction from going south. Here’s how.
How Can You Recover After Being Rude to a Customer?
Before any attempt at smoothing things over can be made, you’ve got to recognize your mistake and voice your apology to the customer as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the end of the conversation to say you’re sorry if you sounded annoyed or frustrated – the best time to apologize is right after it happens.
It’s important to be empathetic in customer service. Some people are more or less sensitive than others, making it tough to predict which behaviors will upset some or be considered rude. Adopt a cautious approach to evaluating your own behavior – don’t make jokes of a sensitive nature with customers.
Don’t make assumptions about someone’s sense of humor. It’s always better to be considered a friendly, professional customer service agent than a funny one and professionality offends much less often than humor.
The customer may accept your apology easily, which would be the best case scenario. Be sure to let them know you appreciate their willingness to overlook the mistake and remain on your absolute best behavior for the call or interaction.
Conversely, the customer may be angry about your actions and refuse to accept your apology. The best action to take in this scenario is to state your understanding and offer to involve a superior, or if you’re the owner and operator, let them know that.
How to Apologize
If you’ve caught yourself being rude to a customer, you can still recover the interaction and offer great service. Everyone makes mistakes, but the most successful people know when to admit it and try to make things right.
Here are a few ways to start off an apology for being rude to a customer:
- You know, I feel like that came off a little rudely, and I wanted to apologize.
- I hope I didn’t sound rude or annoyed, I was looking for that extension and trying to hurry.
- I want to apologize for that. I think it was rude and I’m truly sorry.
Apologizing sincerely to a customer you’ve been rude to will help smooth things over and save the interaction from escalating. By being willing to admit your wrongs, you could be building a loyal customer relationship in the process.