How do you cope with a bullying customer?

How to handle the bullying customer

Customer bullying

There is a well known saying, “the customer is always right”, but are they? From my chats with people in business, especially retail, I get a resounding “NO”. I think it’s a saying that has come about because of the importance of delivering exceptional customer service and that is certainly a vital key to successful business, but can you go too far.

Recently, I have seen a trait where customers are using their position as a customer to bully the businessperson or team member either emotionally or verbally and this certainly is wrong. So what can you do if you are faced with such a situation?

Here are 7 things you could do:

  1. Listen to the customer. The bullying customer will almost certainly be using emotional words and inaccurate comments to try and intimidate you. Be courteous, do not get emotionally involved and certainly do not argue or become teary.
  2. Answer the customer with facts, evidence and examples to support your points, direct the customer’s attention to your terms and conditions if that is appropriate and correct their inaccuracies. Again remaining cool, unemotional and courteous.
  3. Take notes. Keep a written record of what happened and what was said by whom. This could be a diary record, email or just some written notes.
  4. Work towards a solution that will satisfy you both. This would be the best outcome but if the customer is being unreasonable, no amount of discussion will resolve the problem.
  5. If the customer is being unreasonable you may want to involve a colleague in the discussion.
  6. If a solution cannot be found, terminate the conversation courteously by walking away or putting down the telephone. You really don’t want them as a customer because of the wasted time, energy and personal stress involved.
  7. Afterwards, discuss the situation you experienced with another person, family member, colleague etc. This will help you get it off your chest and allow you to destress instead of going over and over the events in your mind.

Remember, you can’t please all the people all of the time and you do not deserve to be bullied by anybody including the customer.


Every week over 40,000 people hear Julian's tips of Business Wisdom on his radio show, so if you are looking for exceptional results from your conference, your organisation, your team, your training program, or your career, then you need to call Julian Campbell. With over 35 years of practical hands-on experience as a senior executive, business owner, business builder and consultant across dozens of industries, Julian has been instrumental in building up numerous organisations, and businesses through planned growth, organizational and culture changes; transforming the lives and businesses of a multitude of people through his great ability to foster change through his caring attitude, vision focus and bottom line realism.

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Posted in Bullying, Customer Service

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