How to Deal with Rude Customers: 7 Best-Working Strategies
Have you tried everything, but still have no idea how to deal with rude customers? You're in the right place. We know 7 foolproof strategies that can help you handle them and catch your zen.
Written by Olesia Melnichenko
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 not-so-nice reviews about your company all over the Internet!“.
Uh-oh. The reality of a customer service position is that you have to deal with rude 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 the ways on how to communicate with ill-natured clients. Plus, we’re going to 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 customer 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 literally make them love you.
However, there is a way out. A rude customer usually expresses their anger in an uncontrollable way, despite you being courteous. But your team should always try to provide proper customer service.
That’s right, even if your customer 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 team to deliver better service. Practice makes perfect, you know (and so does constant dealing with rude customers).
2. Product issues
It happens. There is nothing ideal in this world, and you have to admit it. When there is an evident gap between customers’ expectations of your product or service and the reality, clients may get angry.
If you broke your promises given 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 get in the way, be ready to act on a previously developed plan:
- Inform your clients expressing your sincerest apologies and tell you’re on it, so there is nothing to worry about;
- Make sure you have 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, dealing with rude customers 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 days. When it comes to rude customers, the “bad day” situation goes into overdrive. You have to take every tiny detail into account: a 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 had not 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 airing their grievance. This way, you’re supposed to just read the rude words and not take everything personally.
- Don’t shrug off the opportunity to teach your staff coping with abusive customer behavior. They should be ready to address foul 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, useful tips on how to handle rude customers:
1. Catch your zen
When handling mad clients, the first thing you want to do is actually to 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 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 come up with 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
Right after you calmed your nerves, find 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 technologies, they want their problem to be handled now, and they use pretty simple words explaining it. To them, it’s usually important 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 kindly tell me more about what you’re expecting from this feature/button?
- Could you please send me a link/screenshot so that I clearly understand the cause and help you quicker?
If the situation comes to a deadlock, ask deescalation questions, such as “How can we make it up to you?” etc. In other words, deal with a rude customer 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 you’re 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 obvious 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 to the fullest? Yeah, you may have nothing to be sorry about, but a customer support position is 80% of apologies. Master the art, whether you want that or not.
How to nail an apology? The main rule you have to remember is focusing on the fact that a customer faced a bad experience when telling a customer 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 Facebook said their “sorry” on Twitter the other day. 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 actually lost $6 billion in hours. Can you imagine that? 😳
4. Have empathy
All right, half the battle is done. What’s next? Be empathic. Just like that. Before you jump to any conclusions and start fighting back, put yourself in your rude 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 in real-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 the issues faster, and boost customer loyalty.
- 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 about canned responses – those are messages you can write in advance and use them 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 have mental support from them.
7. Consider the H.E.A.R.D technique
Our customer success managers at HelpCrunch usually follow the H.E.A.R.D technique. This is an acronym for what we’ve discussed today, which means:
H- Heard – Listen to what mean customers say and try to actually hear them without interruption.
E-Empathize – Once again, empathy is a sure-fire way to resolving 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 the luck will smile at you (I meant those clients).
D-Diagnose – Understand what caused such 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 customers. Look them through, personalize them the way 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 customers is not a bed of roses. But it is unavoidable. And you have to patch yourself up in order not to lose your senses.
Let’s recap: remember to keep calm, excavate the issue, express honest apologies, and follow up after Armageddon has already ended. By the way, you even have every right to refuse to provide service to a client who is crossing the red line.
Hopefully, our article becomes a life-saver for you. To always stay in the loop of things, 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.