swearing customers

Stop Fearing Your F#*&ing Customers

Yep, I said it. “Fucking customers.”

Sorry, I don’t usually swear but I promise it’s to make a point. To be fair, this is the first time I’ve ever sworn in a blog but it needs to be said, because your customers are angry.

And you aren’t treating them the way they need to be treated.

People get frustrated when dealing with companies. It happens. The customer experience isn’t always what we want it to be and that can result in some pretty pissed off customers.

What do you do when you get frustrated, mad and feeling like you’re not being heard? You drop an F-bomb. You sprinkle a few S-bombs. You may even make up a few angry words. You raise your voice. Hell, you get down right ornery. And it may be with good reason. What’s a customer service representative to do?

A lot of organizations will actually tell their front line staff not to engage with people that are swearing at them. I worked at a call centre that left it to the operator’s discretion how far they wanted to take it after a swear word or any bullying language was used. And in a lot of circumstances, an operator can’t really do much to get through a wall of offensiveness or liberally provided violent threats.

Some reps, I’m sure, are happy not to engage. Who needs that abuse, right? And confrontation isn’t always the easiest thing to take on.

But what if…what if your customers are just angry and frustrated, and swearing is how they express themselves? Should you hang up on them? Turn your back on them. Avoid their advances all together? I have to say, there’s something about being fearless that will only benefits your business and your customers. My friend Don Power brought to my attention a customer service tweet that raised the question of whether the business should have responded or not.

Check out Mobify on Twitter:

Good for Mobify. Good for them for looking at an opportunity to engage and not simply reading the situation from a surface level. They approached it as an opportunity to understand their customer and build a relationship with him.

Look at it this way. Remove the idea of business vs customer and look at it as another type of relationship: friend vs friend. If a friend of yours demonstrates to you how angry or frustrated they are with something you’ve done, how do you react?

  1. If they are inconsolable in that moment, take a time out and revisit it later.
  2. If they are trying to make a point, they best thing you can do is listen.
  3. If they are trying to understand the aggravating situation, you work to find a solution or to clarify.

A businesses shouldn’t treat their customers any differently just because the word “Fuck” is used. So you have a “naughty word” shot in YOUR business’s direction, here’s a few things to do and think about:

  • “Read” the situation – Is it a stream of anger or does the customer have a point that needs listening to, a question that needs answering or a situation needing to be addressed? Not all situations are the same, neither are people.
  • Think about the kind of relationship you want to have with your customers. Cold shoulder or trusted friend? Do you want them to stay angry or become an ally? (psssst, pick ally) This is a relationship moment and an amazing opportunity to flex that empathy muscle.
  • Is the platform you’re on (Twitter, Facebook, email, etc.) the best platform to express empathy and foster understanding? There’s nothing wrong with taking it offline to a longer form conversation or talk to them over the phone. Just make sure your continue the initial conversation on the platform your customer chose and then ask them if they are comfortable moving to another one.

So the next time your business finds itself in the crosshairs of frustration or anger….stop and think about whether your ‘one response fits all’ approach is how you should really communicate. [tweetable alt=””]It is not how you would respond to your friends, it shouldn’t be how you respond to your customers.[/tweetable]

1 thought on “Stop Fearing Your F#*&ing Customers”

  1. I think I said it when I saw the original tweet – “Good on ya Mobify, for persevering through this vitriol so that hopefully you can STILL help this client”.

    Good reflection of customer service in the age of “anything goes”, Russ.

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