Dealing with Difficult Customers

Dealing with Difficult Customers


From time to time, there will be a need to deal with difficult customers. It is important that staff know what to do. Staff need to understand policies, how to communicate well and what steps to take if a problem escalates.

If a customer is aggressive or angry, listen to the problem and acknowledge it before trying to fix it. For example, say: "You seem upset about this, let's see what we can do about it."

  • Don't take it personally. Be calm and sincere. Maintain an open and attentive body posture.
  • If the customer is making a complaint, follow the complaint handling policy.
  • Know who to consult if a problem escalates - for example, refer it upward to a manager.
  • Trust your instincts. If a person is behaving aggressively or strangely, do not put yourself at risk.
  • Politely ask the person to calm down.  If they do not calm down, ask them to leave.  Do not try to touch them or shepherd them off the premises.

If the person continues to behave aggressively, stay in public view and call a manager or the police if necessary.

Help staff when they have dealt with a problem customer by reviewing what happened. Think about whether the process worked or needs to be improved. Encourage and reward staff for dealing well with problem customers.

You are more likely to experience problem customers at busy times of the year. Make sure that you have adequate staffing and that they all know how to handle difficult situations if they arise, including short-term casual workers.