How can customer support and telesales agents deal with ‘rude’ customers

The question, “How to deal with rude customers” can often be frustrating as well as difficult to answer. No one likes being on the receiving end of a tirade, especially when the reason for their rudeness has nothing to do with you or your service. It is also quite challenging to handle customers who are upset with the previous experience they must have had with the brand or business you are representing. 

A common mistake that many companies make is mistaking angry customers for rude ones when they fall under two different categories. A common advice protocol most agents follow while dealing with angry customers is to “allow them to vent”, which works great in some scenarios but backfires in situations where customers are being excessively rude. Studies conducted by Taylor and Francis Online show that increasing levels of psychological abuse inflicted by customers can damage brand performance in the long run by eroding the management or the company’s ability to retain valued staff who cannot handle the additional stress

How do you identify a ‘rude’ customer? 
One will know how to handle a rude customer, only after they know why they are so. The image given below answers the key question as to why customers exhibit rude behaviour. 

Source: Reve Chat

There are occasions where it is wrong to expect advisors to sit back and take abuse or rude behaviour generated by customers. As the graph inidcates, rude customers are those who are immensely dissatisfied with overall brand interction. The first poor experience brings in annoyance and frustration which slowly converts into rudeness if not handled correctly within the right manner or time. 

Key reasons why customers exhibit rude behaviour:
We all know that customers are pretty up-front reagrding their feelings when brands fail to exceed or even meet their expectations. Here are a few reasons why customers show rude behaviour. 

  • Product problems: When customers experience a gap between the expectations they had for a product versus the reality of it, they feel slightly thwarted. 
  • Not acknowledging or listening: Be it customer support or telesales, it is important to listen to your customers. Lack of doing so, makes customers feel unheard, disregarded, and disrespected.
  • Poor customer support: When brands or businesses fail to meet customer expectations in terms of response time, service quality, or overall customer experience. 
  •  Failed promises: Not having lived up to customer expectations may leave room for customers to develop bitterness against the product or service. Ensure to apologize and compensate when there has been a failure in keeping promises. 
  • Poor overall customer experience: Sometimes, businesses may have failed to deliver the expected level of service because of poor in-store or online experience 

Strategies and tips to deal with rude customers:

1Show care and concern if  customers are feeling like brands don’t keep their promises 

Businesses make certain promises while their products or services are being marketed. But when customers feel that some of those promises have not been lived up to, it tends to irk them. Gallup research and development survey of more than 3,100 customers, less than half of current customers felt that the brands they use keep the promises they make. It becomes more important to acknowledge customers and understand their grievances in such a way that it helps in calming them down. 

For example, they would obviously feel disappointed if they were expecting to receive a certain item as promised, only to receive another one. Therefore understanding customer disappointment and taking appropriate actions will help them calm down and go a long way with the company. 

2- Listen and pay attention to your tone

Source: Docebo

Whether a customer is polite or rude, they both want the same thing which is ‘acknowledgement’. No one wants to feel like they are ‘not’ important. Regardless of what your customers are being rude or not about, ensure to listen to them and allow them to complete what they have to say. 

You can even demonstrate that your actively listening by repeating your customer’s issues back to them for clarification purposes. For example: ‘So, just to clarify, your delivery arrived later than you expected? That must be incredibly frustrating. I’m going to do all I can to get this sorted.’ By acknowledging your customer’s feelings, you are responding with kindness which is one of the best ways such customers can be dealt with. 

3- Don’t hesitate to  apologize 
When customers are rude and it is or it is not the fault of yours or the business, the apology should centre on the customer’s feelings. Be prepared to say something along the lines of, “I am sorry you feel this way”. The power of a well-positioned apology is often underestimated. 

Source: Reve Chat 

As per these statistics, including an apology on top of compensation can double satisfaction to about 74%.

4- Avoid phrases such as “Relax” or “Calm down”

Source: Call Centre Helper

Let’s face it, nobody has ever calmed down when someone asked them to calm down. When used on customers, they get all the more agitated because the focus is given to their mood and not their query or grievance. By assuring them that you will work on finding a solution, or that you are putting all your efforts into helping your customers, you are helping customers get a better grip of the situation. 

Customers can be rude for various reasons. Some reasons may be justified, while some may not be. However, when your primary duty is to provide customer support or telesales service, you will sometimes come across rude individuals. How you respond to them can be the difference between lost customers and satisfied ones. Join us and get started on your career today!

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