THE SITUATION - Customer Insults Your Competence
Angry or frustrated customers sometimes vent or aim their anger about the situation at the most available person.
That target could be you. One of the common attacks or insults has to do with the employee’s competence or intelligence.
How you handle this kind of situation means the difference between turning the situation into something positive and constructive, or creating major hassles and upset for everyone. Here’s how to deal with these insults.
Techniques Used If Your Competence Is Attacked By A Customer
■ Allow Venting (1)
■ Empathy Statements (2)
■ Not Taking the Bait (3)
■ Refocus (4)
Example Dialogue - Handling Insutling Customers
In this dialogue the customer is upset and makes comments about the employee’s competence and intelligence.
Customer: What the hell is wrong with you? Are you too stupid to understand what I’m trying to tell you? Or is it you just don’t give a damn?
Employee: I can see you are concerned, and I’d like to help (1, 2, 3).
Customer: You’re right! And I’m fed up with having to deal with idiots like you.
Employee: I’d like to try to help you, but I need to ask a few questions. Let’s see what we can do to get you what you need (4).
Explaining The Defusing Techniques In The Example
The most important part of this example is what the employee does not do. Although the insults are offensive,
the employee realizes that if she reacts to them, the discussion will worsen into a flat-out argument, which won’t
help the customer and doesn’t benefit the employee. So, she doesn’t take the bait (3). She focuses on showing the
customer she understands he’s upset using empathy (2) and also gives the customer some leeway to vent his frustration (1).
After the customer has vented and not succeeded in getting the employee to jump at the bait, the employee tries to move the conversation away from the customer’s anger and back to the reason the customer contacted her.
This refocusing (4) is intended to get back to the primary concern, issue, or problem.
To help you not react to insults, keep in mind that the customer is, in effect, a stranger and should not be allowed to control your emotional reactions. You don’t have to react with anger.
Keep in mind that if you end up in an argument, you lose, since you don’t have the freedom to unload on a customer
without running the risk of reprimand from your employer.