I know, I know … the customer is always right … or at least ought to be treated as though they’re always perfect. But, where and when do you draw the line?
The question comes up after speaking to some frontline sales man, Ted. A couple of days before, he had difficulty with a client. The customer was being obscure and Ted simply asked for clarification. After that the client was rude and kept sniping at Ted. She had a phone call on her mobile phone and went to talk about Ted and how “rude” HE was to the caller. When he asked the client to sign her credit card, a business requirement, he turned into a “jerk” and an “a_____e.” Ted says, “I do not know what her problem was, but I surely did not like being called names. I couldn’t consider anything I could do to make the situation better.
There are two elements of the scenario. To start with, mobile phones: what exactly are sales and support personnel doing about mobile phone calls? I was purchasing stamps the other day in the post office and the individual directly in front of me was carrying on a conversation while the clerk behind the counter was trying to assist her with a What does Possum Poop Look Like.
The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has signs posted at its information desk saying: “Please, turn off your mobile phone so that we may better serve you.” When people are on the telephone they appear to be in their own little world. “It was not just people in the counter on the telephone that was the issue. The phones also cause a rise in general sound making it increasingly challenging to carry on meaningful conversations in the counter.”
Let us hang-up on mobile phones for awhile and return to rude customers. Personally, I think once a client moves into violent behaviour, they no longer deserve support. I really don’t like to be called names (even if it’s told to a third party and not directly done like with Ted) and I wouldn’t subject any employee to this therapy, either.
I really do think Ted managed the situation well. He kept his cool and obtained through the trade. His next step should be to discuss the situation with his supervisor and allow the supervisor draw the line and supply choices in dealing with rude customers.
For rude mobile phone users, I actually enjoy the easy touch of the signal. It is considerate with a, “please.” It tells the customer that we do need to serve them. It is non-threatening … and it pulls the line … somebody has to.