Unreasonable, Obnoxious, and Rude Customers

Unreasonable, Obnoxious, and Rude Customers

I belong to several trade internet forums. I can count on at least 1 of the forums to have a forum thread discussing stupid things the client states every day and I told that son of a gun to call someone else. Guess what they did call someone else and someone else did the job. Throwing their fist in the air screaming yea I sure told them today. What amazes me even more are the sheer number of company owners that stand in line and say atta-boy, way to go, I wish I had the ability to do that, you know how to run a business. There is this feeling what the customer has done is a lack of respect, insulting, and demanding. None of these feelings are relevant as the customer does not know you personally and therefore cannot disrespect, demean or insult you.

Several things you must remember when this kind of situation occurs to business people. When something happens to a home owner it is an emergency and it is affecting more than 1 person. Keep in mind they are frustrated, angry, and they have a feeling of being helpless. How do you feel when you cannot take care of something in your home or work?

The person on the phone calling you may have someone on their tail such as an upset spouse, children, or they may have just returned home from a disappointing event of some kind. The failure of a product may have happened in the past and they know how much potential damage can occur and they want to limit the damages. They may have just arrived home from an upsetting visit to the hospital. There are  countless reasons a person behaves the way they do and it is our job to discover the reason.

There are many things that we do not know and that means we do not understand the situation the customer has found him or herself in at this moment. The only thing that is known for sure is the customer has a problem and what you are doing at this very moment.

You may be attending something very important and feel the urge to tell the customer off or tell them to take a flying leap off a building. You may feel that you own your company and no one is going to tell you how to run that business. You may even feel that you are the owner of a business and therefore you do not have to take crap.  You may even feel that the home owner is calling you and he or she needs you more than you need them. STOP right there and think about it. Yeah the customer is rude and obnoxious. They are frantic and unreasonable. Are you not the professional?  It is time to STOP reacting and responding in a defensive posture.

Tell the customer to take a flying leap off a tall building and you risk losing that customer. Hold on a minute you risk losing more than 1 customer, you lose many potential customer. You will lose every person this customer knows and talks with and the people they know and the beat goes on.

Do not think for one second that this means you must be a doormat to a customer when the customer is 100% wrong or out of line. There are many ways to get a point across without creating more havoc and damage. When you lose control and allow anger to creep into the equation there are now 2 unreasonable people communicating. I am not going to do this for you and hearing I need you to get your ass over here is a conflict every time. If you do not stop I am going to come over there and shove this phone up yours is not a recommended form of conflict resolution.

Sure your patience may be wearing thin. Explain to the home owner that you are right in the middle of something extremely important and you will get right back to them as soon as you can. Give them some time to chill and give you time to mentally prepare for the return call. If you feel the need to stay on the line then you must focus on the customer verses yourself. You answered the phone and that suggests you are available to the customer.

I had a customer that called very upset, crying, and demanding that I drop everything to come to their home. They had a lot of people at her home and the shower would no longer drain. I let this customer vent her frustration and anger and then asked for the contact details. I happened to recognize the last name as I know her son. His father had just passed away. I now understood the frustration and anger. I understood the urgency to get the task completed and how important it was to the homeowner. This was the weekend to bury her husband and say goodbye forever. It is not about me it is always about the customer.

I could not get the drain cleared with a drain machine. I went into the basement and cut the p-trap out and replaced the p-trap. When I did I was able to chisel out the bottom of the p-trap. I discovered a gold necklace covered with soap, hair and other organic materials that hardened in the p-trap. I cleaned up the necklace and took it upstairs to the customer. She threw her arms around me and started to cry with a huge smile on her face. This necklace was given to her by her husband when they first married and she thought she had lost it forever. We just never know the impact that we can have on any 1 person.

There is a saying you choose your attitude and the attitude does not choose you. The customer did not make you angry. The situation does not make you angry. You choose to get angry over silly things by taking business personally. Frequently I am discovering the business owner to be in a very stressful situation when this has happened. As an example they or someone in their family is in the hospital when they have received the phone call. This indicates to me that it is not the customer that has made them angry it is the situation they have found themselves in that created the anger and the customers call has manifested into something greater than it is. None have stated they explained to the customer where they were and would call them back when they left.

No one deserves to be sworn at, this we are incomplete agreement with and it is ridiculous to think anything other than that. It has nothing to do with needing work or begging for work. It is a different perspective when dealing with unreasonable people. This is in lieu of firing a customer as that is the right of every business owner. My belief with firing a customer is with customers that cost too much to maintain and very high maintenance. Where the dollar to service them is less than the time it takes to service him or her.

I have had great success with using silence as a tool to disarm the unreasonable customer. Frequently the customer will ask if I am still on the phone. I just let them vent and get it out of their system.  Often when people vent they are calmer and feel better and will become coherent and reasonable. When swearing becomes their tool of choice I ask for different adjectives used describing the situation. If I want to speak to the customer at this time I will stay on the line however if I feel I need time I will  inform the customer that I will call them back  and when  I will call back.


About practicebetterbusiness

Author of Outside the Business Box: All about Sales Build a better you and increase your earning potential

Posted on July 14, 2012, in electrical sales, HVAC sales, plumbing sales, service industry, service trades and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Cedrick Loeber

    Plumbing is not a very easy task. I tried doing some home plumbing and it resulted into quite a lot of mess. .*.’,

    Enjoy your weekend!

    • All of the trades take many years of educaton and training to become experienced to get rid of problems.Trades people are taught not only how to dothe work but they are taught why they use certain products verses other cheaper and less quality products

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