Phew! Thank God, this hectic day is almost over. You’re about to go home when suddenly you hear this clicking sound. It’s a new message from a customer. Let’s see… Well, someone is in trouble as the message is kind of: “I am sick and tired of your support, you fools! I am demanding a refund, or else be ready to witness negative reviews about your company all over the Internet!“.
Uh-oh. The reality of a customer service rep position is that you must deal with irate customers, whether you like it or not. But you still have two options here (at the very least): either to serve your answer with the same sauce or to chill no matter what. Which one would you choose?
To make your choice easier, we share our expertise about how to deal with rude customers. Plus, we will break down the reasons for such unpleasant behavior. So, brace yourself in advance, light up a few scented candles, and read the valuable manual.
Why customers are rude: 3 possible reasons
Before shooting from the hip, the first thing you need to do is to find out why a person behaves this way. These are the most widely spread reasons why a client may be mad at you (there might be more of them, though):
1. Improper customer service
68% of clients say they switch to another brand due to bad customer service. A single misunderstanding, a side look, or a wrong subscription paycheck can change the situation drastically.
As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. What I am getting at is that different people perceive customer service in their own way. And you’re in no power to make them love you, literally.
However, there is a way out. A difficult customer usually expresses their anger uncontrollably despite you being courteous. But your frontline employees should always try to provide proper customer service.
That’s right, even if your service leaves much to be desired, and you know it. The art of recognizing your mistakes is worth gold. Every time nasty customers come in, be up in arms and amaze them with your professionalism. Plus, you can always train your customer service team to be better. Practice makes perfect, you know.
2. Product issues
It happens. Nothing is ideal in this world, and you must admit it. Clients may get angry when there is an evident gap between customers’ expectations of your product or service and the reality.
If you broke your promises to clients, leave no stone unturned and save the day. First, you should regularly check with your developer team if all systems are operating. Once an outage, a bug, or a malfunction gets in the way, be ready to act on a previously developed plan:
- Inform your clients expressing your sincerest apologies and tell them you’re on it, so there is nothing to worry about;
- Make sure you have an ETA of bug fixes and let people know about scheduled product activities that may lead to problems;
- Have all your best coworkers work out the bugs ASAP;
- Make sure it won’t happen again any time soon.
Otherwise, customer interaction will take on a snowball effect, and it will be hard enough to cope with it.
3. Bad day
It may sound silly, but we are all human beings who tend to have bad moods. When rude clients are involved, the “bad day” situation goes into overdrive. You have to consider every tiny detail: an angry customer woke up on the wrong side of the bed, a barista didn’t smile at them in the morning, their colleague ate their lunch, or they just did not have the best business meeting.
To put out the fire, you should catch the right moment and try these techniques:
- Ask a customer to leave a comment, fill out a special form, or, better yet, email you to air their grievance. This way, you will read the rude words and not take everything personally.
- Don’t shrug off the opportunity for customer service training on how to deal with rude customer behavior. They should be ready to address offensive language, threats, and hateful speech with dignity. “Customer is always right” is not working here.
How to deal with rude customers: 7 failure-proof tips
Finally, we’re approaching the boot camp part. To prevent you from going off the deep end, there are real-life, valuable tips on how to deal with rude customers:
1. Catch your zen
When handling mad clients, the first thing you want to do is fight back. It’s scientifically confirmed. But here is when you should pull yourself together and cover up your response rage.
There are lots of tricks that can help you catch your zen 🧘♀️. First, these are standard breathing exercises. Take a deeeep breath, release your mind, and breathe out. Breathe in and breathe out… Besides, take advantage of YouTube before you speak to a mad customer. A 10-minute video meditation can be a nice option.
Then, try to close your eyes and imagine a place where you feel the most comfortable. For instance, your previous holiday venue, home, or desert island. Such an ordinary hack can help you retract from reality and develop a meaningful answer for a client. At the end of the day, your job is to help make the customers’ lives easier by solving their product or service problems. And, maybe your calm, patient self can help improve their day.
2. Get to the bottom of the issue
After you calm your nerves, find the customer’s pain, the root problem, and start solving it. Cause you know, it’s hard to help a person without knowing what’s the fuss.
Make sure you read through the lines. A rude customer (well, any customer) is often not a Nobel Prize winner in math and technology; they want their problem handled now and use pretty simple words to explain it. To them, it’s usually essential to show how they feel about it. Ask clarifying questions, articulate why the issue appeared, and tell what you are going to do about it:
- To be on the same page with you – are you trying to do [this and that]/ edit [this doc], etc.?
- Could you tell me more about what you expect from this feature/button?
- Could you please send me a link/screenshot so that I can clearly understand the cause and help you quicker?
If the tense situation is deadlocked, ask deescalation questions, such as “How can we make it up to you?” etc. In other words, deal with rude customers by finding out what they expect from you.
Another worthwhile trick here would be the ELI5 Technique (Explain like I’m 5). Everything is easy: speak to a customer on a much simpler level, trying to understand what happened. It’s useful when working with a highly technical product or service. Avoid jargon and get back to the basics. Patiently explain every step in the process, even if some steps seem apparent to you.
3. Apologize like you mean it
An exasperating client almost always expects apologies. So, this should be one of the first actions to take when handling a rude customer. Sincerest apologies act as temper measures, so why not use them fully? Yeah, you may have nothing to be sorry about, but a customer service representative position is 80% of apologies. Master the art, whether you want that or not.
How to nail an apology? The main rule you must remember is to focus on the fact that a customer faced a lousy experience when telling them you’re deeply sorry, not acknowledging that their rudeness towards your brand is 100% valid.
According to a study at Arizona State University, 37% of clients were satisfied with service recovery when they were offered something of monetary value — for example, a refund or credit. But when the business added an apology on top of the compensation, satisfaction doubled to 74%.
This is how the Facebook customer support team their “sorry” on Twitter the other day. It’s pretty generic and as if they meant it (well, they did). It all started with a massive system outage, due to which Mark Zuckerberg has lost $6 billion in hours. Can you imagine that? 😳
4. Have empathy
All right, half the battle is done. What’s next? Be empathic, train your emotional intelligence, just like that. Before jumping to conclusions and fighting back, put yourself in your unhappy customers’ shoes. Understand a client’s problem (or at least try), imagine how they feel, and only after that communicate with them. It will help you stay clear-headed and lose any added fountains of emotions.
One of the easiest tricks here is, of course, telling you would feel the same in such a situation. For instance, if your client account is collapsed for some reason, say something like, “I sure wouldn’t stand for my account being collapsed all of a sudden!“. This way, a rude customer notices your involvement and friendliness and, hopefully, stops swearing at you.
5. Improve your customer service
Let’s face it: if you have to welcome a rude client, then something is fairly not right with your customer service. The only way out is to take it to the next level. For that, you need a few things:
- Offer real-time support. 44% of people agree that a website’s best feature would be an option to get the answers to their questions with minimal response time. Why not provide it in the first place? For instance, go for live chat support to assist any rude customer on time, deliver proactive service, solve issues faster, and increase the number of loyal customers.
- Prepare scripts for FAQs. Dealing with a rude customer knocks you off balance. To save yourself those valuable nerve cells, prepare chat scripts with questions mad clients usually ask. Plus, don’t forget canned responses – messages you can write in advance and use any time you handle a client who screams at you.
- Consider training programs. This includes everything from psychology literature to online and offline workshops. Or you can polish customer service problem-solving techniques. It won’t hurt. Besides, there is a myriad of YouTube videos on how to overcome anger towards yourself and deal with difficult people, like this one
6. Be brave to say “no”
I am the kind of person who can’t say “no” to people. Sometimes, I think having such a skill wouldn’t hurt. So don’t be like me.
When you deal with a rude customer, they get personal, and there’s nothing left for you to say or do; your last resort may be refusing to assist them. But make sure you check this detail in the legislation of your region. In the US, for that matter, such practice is usually prescribed by law.
That’s it. If need be, invite your team leader to this conversation to get their mental support.
7. Consider the H.E.A.R.D technique
H- Heard – Listen to what people say and try actually to hear them without interruption.
E-Empathize – Once again, empathy is a surefire way to resolve even the most complicated issue.
A-Apologize – As long as your words are sincere, everything makes sense. Otherwise, you risk losing your client.
R-Resolve – Speed is your best friend. Be quick in handling rude clients, and luck will smile at you (I meant those clients).
D-Diagnose – Understand what caused such rude behavior, find the bug, and focus on fixing it so that it never happens again.
Bonus: 5 best responses to rude customers
We can’t let you go without a special selection of witty model phrases that can help you deal with rude clients. Look them through, personalize them how you like, and infuse them into your conversations. You’ll see, assisting those clients won’t be torture:
– I want to speak to your manager NOW! 🤬
– We are more of an egalitarian brand with no red tape hierarchy…so there is no senior manager, sorry. But let me offer you an alternative option…
– How long is it going to take? Gosh, I can’t wait for ages and better switch to another brand! 😠
– Fair enough! We do appreciate your decision. FYI, our team will resolve your issue faster than you find another option. Just saying…
– You idiots! Are you nuts?! This should work another way!! 😾
– We are so lucky to have such a knowledgeable customer! Already taking your recommendation to our team. As for your issue…
– Are you serious?! Why didn’t you tell me I couldn’t get a refund?! 👿
– From the moment I signed up for your product, I knew you would have bugs everywhere! It’s unacceptable!!!
– We thank you for being our customer! It’s you who makes us better. I will let you know as soon as the bugs are taken care of. By the way, it’s International Yoga day! Let’s catch the zen together 😌 🧘♀️
Dealing with rude clients is not a bed of roses. However, such interactions are unavoidable aspects of customer service. And you have to patch yourself up in order not to lose your senses.
Let’s recap: Remember to keep calm, explore the issue, express honest apologies, and follow up after Armageddon has already ended. By the way, you have every right to refuse service to a client crossing the red line.
Hopefully, our article becomes a life-saver for you. To stay in the loop, go for a one-stop customer communication platform. Sign up for a free 14-day trial with HelpCrunch to never miss a message from your clients and always talk to them in a friendly way, no matter what.