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How to Handle Customer Threats | Waiter and Customer

How to Handle Customer Threats

How to Handle Customer Threats | Waiter and Customer

One of the sad realities of customer service is that a small percentage of customers will resort to threats to attempt to get what they want.

Reasons vary. Perhaps the customer is exasperated and is lashing out. Perhaps the customer hasn’t gotten what they want and is escalating it to see if you will back down. Perhaps the customer is just not a very nice person and likes to threaten people.

Once someone threatens you, it changes the dynamic of the conversation. Depending on the severity of the threat, it might actually end the conversation.

We will cover some typical threats below, in increasing order of severity, and some strategies for responding to each type of threat.

First, a few general rules for responding to customer threats. The technique below is actually designed for any type of encounter with an upset customer. It is from Robert Bacal’s book If It Wasn’t For The Customers I’d Really Like This Job. Bacal teaches the acronym CARP:

  • Control
  • Acknowledge
  • Refocus
  • Problem Solve

As you go through the specific situations below, keep this acronym in mind. It is a solid general rule for most customer encounters, though the advice below is for when one of those steps has not been achieved.

Handling Customer Threats

I’m Going to Take My Business Down the Street

This threat is nothing more than stating the obvious, as this is the implied threat in EVERY customer service encounter. When a customer voices it, it is because the customer is not getting what they want from the conversation and have resorted to actually saying what everyone already knows. Unless stuck due to contractual or switching barriers, unhappy customers tend to go elsewhere. Read More