Bad customers come in many forms. They can come disguised as unsupervised or rowdy youth, frequent freeloaders that never buy anything, individuals who love to cause a dramatic scene for the world to see, and outright crooks.
In a retail situation, this particular type of customer invariably brings more problems than sales to your business. The unpleasant situations that they can create have the potential to leave negative, long-lasting impressions of your business on other customers and the community. Now, your truly valuable customers that would have ordinarily referred your business to their friends may choose to spend their money elsewhere in the future.
Developing a strong course of action to properly ask a customer to leave and to anticipate and handle their reaction is a good idea. Additionally, communicating the strategy to your staff and engaging in a mock training scenario will provide them with the adequate response tools for tense situations.
Here are five tips to keep in mind when all other options have been exhausted and the time has come to fire a customer:
1) Deliver a simple, clear, but firm message - Choose your words carefully, and keep the conversation short to avoid prolonging or escalating the situation to another level. Inform them that you are sorry to ask them to leave but you feel it is necessary.
2) Command a strong presence – Speak directly to the customer with a tone of confidence (not condescension), and maintain eye contact to confirm that your message is being heard. A mouse whisper of a voice will make the customer think they can push the matter as far as they want.
3) Always keep calm and cool – Do not play into the bad customer’s game of slinging mud. Becoming involved in a shouting match with the disgruntled patron will only entice them to push you further.
4) No compliance, authorize force – If a customer refuses to leave, tell them that they have left you with no other choice but to call security or the police. The mere thought of a badge will send most people running.
5) Do not be afraid to call 911 – Always exercise good judgment when confronting a customer. Not everyone brings smiles and hugs through the front door. In the event that an individual begins showing signs of aggression, call security or the police as soon as possible. There is simply no point in risking your safety and the safety of others around you by trying to save the day.