Q: I provide customer service for my company and lately have been having problems with angry customers. They get abusive, but our management doesn’t support us. How can I deal with this? I don’t want to leave this job.
One thing I tell students when they embark on their practicums is that they should never allow a client to belittle, humiliate, shouted at, or treat them disrespectfully. It is okay to say, “If you continue in this manner, I will be forced to end our call, and/or walk out of the room.” Then promptly follow through if the individual continues to behave in a negative manner. I also find it horrible when a company or agency doesn’t encourage their employee to do the same. This clearly says we do not value you. In saying that, one should do some self-reflecting and ask themselves “Why do you want to stay?” There are plenty of practical reasons people don’t want to change jobs. Location, pay, and co-workers all can factor in. This can also be a chance to learn active listening and advocating, because there is the chance management is not connected to the front-line work. In this case you can do a service for the customer, yourself, and management. For example, if you see a change in a policy or business hours has triggered a spike in enraged customers, you can pass that information on to higher levels. Be mindful you may not be able to take direct action, but you can make a customer feel heard and valued. Remember, change isn’t failure when it moves you forward.