When the Customer Is Wrong

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If you’ve done everything you can to help a customer and they’re still unhappy, it may be time to cut your losses, particularly if the customer is being unreasonable or abusive.

You want to give every customer a great experience, of course, so we’ll start with some basic guidelines for good customer service, courtesy of Janine Popick, CEO and founder of marketing firm VerticalResponse.

  • Help clear any roadblocks that the customer is having, whether it’s an exchange, refund or support. If it’s a technical issue, give the customer explicit instructions or send them to a support person who can help.
  • Be courteous and respectful (“kill ’em with kindness,” says Popick).
  • Be timely with responses; making an irate customer wait will only make matters worse.
  • Document all communications.

If you’ve taken all these steps and your customer still isn’t happy, it may be time to say that you’ve done all you can, particularly if the customer is being abusive or unreasonable. Popick notes a few instances where that may be the case:

  • If the customer continues to abuse your product, service or policies despite all your efforts to improve the experience.
  • If he or she personally attacks, threatens or belittles your employees.
  • If he or she has a track record of complaining or unreasonable requests.

It may cost you a customer, but showing employees you’ve got their backs could do wonders for morale.

Adapted from When to Choose Employee Support Over Customer Support by Janine Popick at Small Business Computing.