In Blog #10 ,I talked about focusing on solutions and executing in steps. In this post, I want to talk about how to handle hostile customers.
There’s a great article in Forbes that that lays out 7 steps in dealing with angry customers. However, I’m going to add another scenario and solution which involves employee safety.
Things were really coming along well in the store, we had a really good team, and our shrinkage problem disappeared. Now, we were making our numbers.
Dave our district manager, came into the store one day. He was a jovial type of guy and was great to work with. We had a really strong relationship, and he liked to joke around a lot. But on this day, he got down to business.
“Mike you really turned this store around. We have an opening in our largest store, so I want to promote you as store manager over there. This was a huge compliment and a big vote of confidence to me. So I accepted the offer!
I hated to leave my old team, but it was too good of an offer to pass it up. I got there the next afternoon and met my new team. They seemed like a good group and eager to learn. I walked the store and took some notes, then I went to the back stock room to check out how they ran the inventory.
Best way to handle hostile customers
Then suddenly, I got called on the intercom system. There was an angry customer threatening our employees with physical violence. I ran upfront to talk to him. This guy was around 6′-4″, and looked like a bodybuilder.
He claimed that he had bought a shoe (which we didn’t recognized) with no receipt or box. From the looks of it he didn’t buy the shoes from our store.
First, I calmly asked him when he bought the shoe. He replied “a few months ago”. Then, I showed him the return policy which was posted on the wall. It stated plainly 30 days only return with receipt.
That set him off and he got extremely pissed off at me. He said “you’re the store manager and so you should be able to give me what I want”. I repeated the return policy calmly, and said I wanted to help him. He didn’t have anything that proved he had purchased the shoes at our store.
“How’d you like it if I punched you in the face?!” he yelled. So I told him, “I wouldn’t like to be punched in the face, but if you want to go to jail over this, it’s up to you. If you don’t leave the store, I’m going to call the police”. He finally left in a huff, and we never saw him again. He had roid rage (anger management on steroids!).
I always try my best to make people leave happy, no matter what the situation. But, there is a line that can’t be crossed when someone threatens you or your team. At that point, firm action needs to be taken for protection. I think this is the best way to handle hostile customers.
…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career.
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