How To Handle Hostile Customers

As much as we hate to deal with them, disgruntled customers are inevitable. No matter what you do, it seems like they just can't be appeased. When you're faced with hostile customers, it's important to deal with them quickly so that the situation doesn't escalate. Keep this guide handy to help you handle hostile customers.

Step 1

Keep your tone pleasant. Although you may be getting screamed at, resolve not to reciprocate with a harsh tone. Deal with hostile customers calmly and professionally. Maintain eye contact so as not to anger them further by seeming uninvolved. Show that you are listening by nodding your head. And don't cross your arms. Give off pleasant body language and an understanding attitude and your hostile customers will likely take a hint and quiet down. The last thing you want to do when dealing with hostile customers is give them reason to become further enraged. So pay attention, speak calmly and use a respectful, understanding tone.

Step 2

Listen to the complaint. Often, your hostile customers have legitimate complaints. As a manager or employee, it is your job to listen to these complaints, in whatever form them come in. Use phrases like ‘I understand' and ‘I see' to show that you are listening to their concerns. Often, they have become hostile because their complaints had previously gone unnoticed. Diffuse the situation by giving the hostile customer what he wants: attention.

Step 3

Diminish the customer's tone. Often, you won't be the only one privy to your customer's disgruntled words. An entire staff or heaps of customers may be present during an outraged customer's tantrum. Work quickly to diminish the loud or harsh tones of the argument by continuing to speak softly. If the customer won't calm down, you may need to restore the peace in the store or business by moving elsewhere. Gently coach the hostile customer to a quieter, more secluded area where fewer people will be affected by the customer's outrage. Don't put yourself in a dangerous situation, but do try to move away from crowds. Keep another employee close by when you remove your hostile customers from public view.

Step 4

Keep it impersonal. It's important to remember that most of the time, it's not you that the customer is angry with. Keep your emotions and personal feelings out of conversations when handling hostile customers. Instead, discuss with the hostile customer what ‘the company can do' to solve the problem and how ‘the policy should be changed'. Don't accept blame or tarnish your name by admitting fault. Direct the hostility toward something.

Step 5

Do what it takes to solve the problem. To handle hostile customers, you need to deal with them quickly and effectively. Often, you will need to give them what they want even though it may not be the regular way of doing things. Consider what is best for the company at that time and act accordingly. Your goal is to get the hostile customers dealt with quickly so that they will leave, content with the solution. The sooner you handle hostile customers, the sooner your work environment will be restored to normal.


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