How to Talk Crazy Customers “Off the Ledge” and Other Tactics

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How to Talk Crazy Customers “Off the Ledge” and Other Tactics

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It is about them.

What to do when people are out of control.

The other day I was at Dunkin’ Donuts when a customer started yelling. The store was packed; he was a big man and pointing his finger at the clerk’s nose. His beef was he hadn’t gotten his toasted muffin or tuna fish sandwich. The manager was trying to explain that her oven wasn’t working, and she was sorry for the inconvenience.

The more she explained her side of the case, the worse it got. It didn’t matter what she said, he continued to berate her in front of the other customers. I thought about putting my hand on his arm in hopes it might calm him down. (I knew it wasn’t a good idea, so I didn’t do it.) I thought he might have a gun, and we would all be history. At this point, people were putting their heads down and leaving. I considered the same but realized there was a lot for me to learn. This was nothing about customer service; it was about a crazy and berating customer.

The clerk gave him his money back and explained she would give him the rest of the order for free. This wouldn’t satisfy him either. He slammed through the door and ran into the parking lot still yelling. His partner wasn’t impressed; she started screaming at him for not bringing the order; so much for a pleasant ride to the Catskills.

Was there anything else she could have done? She was upset, shaking but not on the verge of tears. It was obvious she was well trained but “not that well trained.”

  1. There’s a point where she should have shut up. The customer wasn’t listening, didn’t care and wasn’t logical.  He was very emotional. There’s no point trying to defend yourself.
  2. You can agree with the customer. So he believes you’re stupid for not having what he wants, and he believes he’s entitled. I don’t know what he would have said, but the rest of us would have enjoyed her approach and logic.
  3. It would have helped if she had raised her voice instead of retreating into her rather quiet approach. A loud “you’re right “might have helped. It’s called “talking the customer off the ledge.” Power it up, not with the same anger but with matching volume. Who knows what’s going on in his life?
  4. Don’t make the fire any hotter by explaining anything. A simple “sorry” is enough.
  5. Don’t take it personally. Sure this is tough to do, but it really has nothing to do with you. I watched an episode at the bank that was quite amazing. I didn’t hear the original conversation, but I did hear the teller say to  the customer if he said that again, she  would come around to the front and “pound him! “Okay she was fired but I had a feeling he might have been really out of line. Do you want more information on this subject? Check out this article, “10 Ways to Deal with Difficult Customers.”

Lisbeth Calandrino has been helping businesses to build loyal customers for the last twenty years. To have her speak to your company or schedule a consultation, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com or check out her web site, www.lisbethcalandrino.com.

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By | 2017-03-03T12:06:55+00:00 July 27th, 2014|Blog, Customer Service|0 Comments

About the Author:

Lisbeth Calandrino is an award winning trainer, entrepreneur, and blogger and has spent over twenty years developing custom tailored marketing and customer service programs for businesses. Her recently published book, Red Hot Customer Service, 35 Sizzling Ways to Heat up Your Business and Ignite Your Sales defines the steps necessary to build a competitive advantage and turn great companies into unforgettable or red hot companies. Lisbeth admits that much of her knowledge came from her Italian grandfather who despite very little formal education and a limited English vocabulary, managed to became both successful and wealthy. Lisbeth has wonderful stories about Grandpa DiBiagio’s and her time spent learning how to managing Grandpa’s fruit stand. Because of Lisbeth’s experience as a business owner, having been the managing partner and owner of 7 furniture and carpet stores for 14 years, she is able to bring her extensive business knowledge and experience to all of her clients. Lisbeth’s awards include executive of the year award from the International Executive Association, Albany chapter (a business networking group) and first place honors in an international marketing contest for alternative medicine. A two time cancer survivor, she has spoken extensively about her experiences of cancer, offering words of comfort and inspiration. As an activist, Lisbeth has initiated and contributed to many charitable causes. She has worked with at-risk youth, spoken out against injustice and advocated to and helped to build resources for women. As a presenter, Lisbeth Calandrino is highly motivational, information-rich, and very entertaining. Her acute business sense, contagious enthusiasm, positive energy and fun sense of humor make her a dynamic presenter. Lisbeth is a member of New York, Historic Albany Foundation, educational director of Business Referrals Networking Group and member of the board of directors of the Animal Protective Foundation of Scotia, New York.

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