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Social & Interpersonal Skills

How To Deal With Entitled Customers (Without Losing Your Calm)

When bosses say the customer is always right, they may not realize that not all customers are reasonable. In fact, a lot of customers these days are downright rude.

Working with the public is hard enough without having to deal with rude and entitled customers. These types of people simply have no respect for your position. They are not thinking about the fact that you’re just trying to do your job; they’re only thinking about their own needs.

When you encounter a rude and entitled customer, it may come as a big shock. There you are at work, trying to smile and give great customer service and, bam! You get hit with hostility and anger.

What are you supposed to do in a situation like this?

Read More: How To Make Small Talk With Customers And Build Rapport With Them

Your Company Probably Has Rules About Disgruntled Customers

The first thing you should do has to do with prep. Chances are, at some point in your career, you’ll need to know how to deal with entitled customers.

Therefore, you should acquaint yourself with company policy (if they have any) about how to deal with entitled customers. Note that the company handbook will likely refer to them as “unsatisfied” customers. But you know the truth; they are simply entitled.

The reason is, you don’t want to be fired over the way you handle the situation. Entitled customers don’t deserve to see you frogmarched out of the place just because you stood your ground.

So you always want to operate within the confines of the company handbook. This will keep you safe from being fired. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun in the process!

Funny Ways to Deal With Rude Customers

The following are some fun, passive-aggressive ways to deal with rude and entitled customers. You can get back at them without them actually having any evidence that you’re doing anything but being professional. These examples of dealing with difficult customers will preserve your job but make your entitled customer crazy!

1) When a customer demands that you “Hurry it up, slowpoke, I’ve got a meeting to get to!”

Make their order really, really slow. Like a turtle. When they complain that you’re moving too slow, take more time to explain to them (with a big ol’ smile), that you are ensuring that their order is absolutely perfect. Then slowly proceed with their order. Like a turtle.

2) When a customer gives you a list of 20 ways you need to customize their $5 fast food order.

Ask them to repeat it because you didn’t get it all. Ask them to repeat it again. And again. Go to the back to “find a pad of paper and a pencil” so you can write it down. Do a crossword puzzle.

3) When a customer demands a cash refund on a credit card shoe purchase that they obviously wore.

In succinct words in a monotone voice, explain the store’s return policy. (Customer shouts.) Explain the store policy in the same monotone words. (Customer throws a tantrum.) Repeat store policy in the same monotone words. Repeat as necessary until the customer leaves.

What is the Psychology of Rude Customers?

Have you ever wondered why rude and entitled customers act the way they do? After all, when you go out to a restaurant or buy something in a shop, you try to be as polite as possible, so what gives? What is the psychology of rude customers?

Chances are that the rude customers you encounter today are the same rotten kids you encountered on the school playground. Bullies grow up to be rude customers unless they change their stripes somewhere along the way.

Another reason that some customers are so rude is because they feel entitled. Why do customers feel so entitled? They may feel that because they have money that they are better than other people.

Sometimes customers are rude because they are going through something private. These types are only rude “temporarily.” Maybe they are being abused at home, or they have a lot of work stress. Maybe their job is on the line.

No matter why a customer is rude, you don’t deserve to be treated that way. No one gets a free pass when it comes to being rude to others. But when it happens to you, you need to find a way to learn how to deal with entitled customers.

How to Deal With Entitled Customers

Entitled customers deserve special treatment, but not the kind they might be expecting. If you are in a job where you have to deal with the public, you do need to learn the art of standing up to rude customers. Here are some examples of rude customers, as well as tips on how to deal with rude customers in retail:

Don’t Bend Until You Break

Entitled customers often ask for preferential treatment. But you should treat all your customers equally. Avoid bending the rules for one customer because it will only make your job harder in the long run.

Do Feel Empathy

Everyone has bad days and it’s possible that your rude customer is having one right now, in front of you. You’ll feel better—and they will, too—if you are sympathetic to their situation. Expressing that sympathy may just make your hot customer simmer down.

Use “Wish” Terminology

A simple magic word can help to make an entitled customer back off. For example, in a retail job, you could say:

“I wish I could give you your money back, but our store policy prohibits it.”

Or,

“I wish I could have this dress delivered to your home, but our store has no system of making deliveries to customers.

When you do this, the customer believes that you actually want to do this extra thing for them, but that you are simply unable to. This puts you on their side, and will likely make them stop hassling you, since you’re on the same “team.”

Offer Alternative Solutions

Don’t just say no to a rude or entitled customer. Offer one or more alternative solutions as a compromise. The customer might be placated in this manner.

Example: “I can’t give you your money back, but I can offer you your choice of an exchange for another item, or store credit.”

Example: “I can’t clean this stain off the dress you want, but I can offer you a 10% discount off the price.”

It’s actually better to offer more than one option, because then the customer has to choose. This takes their mind off their problem and also puts them in charge of the solution.

Don’t Bring Your Work Home

There’s no point in taking your job worries home with you. Don’t get all stressed out just because you deal with rude customers all day! Instead, remember that it’s just a job and you’re just an employee.

Remain Objective

If it wasn’t you standing behind the counter, it would be someone else. The customer isn’t mad at you. They are mad at the situation.

The last thing you should do is to get into a match with the customer. Just remember to remain objective. Don’t take their rudeness personally.

Don’t Interrupt

Avoid the urge to interrupt or correct your customer mid-sentence. Interruptions will make the customer feel that you don’t care what they have to say. Worse, it can make them feel like you are looking down at them.

Instead, wait until they are finished or until they ask you a question. Then you can take the opportunity to clarify anything that they may be misunderstanding, or to explain your position.

Be a Good Listener

Sometimes rude customers are just venting their frustrations about something else that they’re upset about. No matter what, it’s essential that you listen actively to what they are saying. When you are a good listen, you can better assess what they are really after, and then determine the best course of action.

Repeat What They Said

After the customer has said what they had to say, repeat it back to them. Not in a sarcastic way, but just to reiterate their situation. This shows the customer that you did indeed listen, and that you are working hard to fully understand their “argument.”

Call in Reinforcements

If nothing else works, call in reinforcements. Ask your manager to speak to the customer and then step away. After all, it’s not your store and not your responsibility to be the only one dealing with a rude customer.

Dealing with rude or entitled customers definitely takes some finesse. But the more experienced you get with this kind of person, the better you’ll get at being able to deal with them in a way that doesn’t make you lose control.

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