If you’ve ever felt intimidated into behaving a certain way, you’ve been bullied. When I took business classes, I never dreamed that I’d need a crash course in bullying but as it turns out, I did. In my two decades in business (with ten years as a coach) I’ve seen my share of bully clients. This category of clientele believes they can get the outcome they want simply by bullying the business person into submission. You don’t have to submit to the unreasonable customer. Learn more about handling them safely-and teach your team to do the same.
What is a bully client? I classify them as customers who intimidate with repeated angry phone calls or visits to the store to demand unreasonable discounts or compensation. They may also try to physically push their way into your space in an attempt to “wear down” the CSR (customer service representative). The method for staying safe and providing sensible customer satisfaction (if possible) is to identify the problem quickly and offer a suitable resolution.
Steps to Handling a Bully Client
Disengage from the confrontation quietly to evaluate the danger of a customer conflict. Reach out to a manager immediately and call the police if a physical threat is made. Next, separate the customer by leading him into a quiet area or office. When you take away his audience, he is likely to calm down. However, do not retreat into another room without another worker present. You could place yourself in unwanted danger.
Now practice active listening. Look the individual in the eyes and nod as he talks/rants to show that you are listening. Once he has vented say, “I hear you say…” and repeat back to him what he said without any expletives. Try to discern his source of frustration. Do not yell or display your anger.
Take the customer to the next step. If he’s demanding a refund without a receipt or insisting on a price reduction, explain to him the procedure and lead him through the process. Always tell him what you will do next. You may not be able to give the asked for reduction but do offer what is reasonable. Use your best manners saying, “Thank you” when appropriate but don’t expect to hear that in return. Help your fellow workers by noting the account.
If you’re the boss, teach workers how to handle bullies. It needs to be taught during training sessions too. When customers become abuse, take a step back and say, “Ma’am, I want to help you but I will not be mistreated. How may I help you?”
Don’t forget the importance of security cameras. People are less likely to lose it if they know they are being recorded.
Read more from Monica Bullock:
Why I Jumped on the No Spend Day Band Wagon
What You Should Know About Your First Job
5 Reasons to Dress Up for Work