TIP 21: Raise Your Voice or Shout Back.

After all, the one with the loudest voice wins.

Negative Ned Says…

Ned Yelling

“If the customer yells at me, it’s perfectly okay for me to yell back. I have to defend myself. I have feelings too, you know.”

Positive Paul Says…

Positive Paul

“This is a tough one. When someone is yelling at you, your first instinct is to yell back. This, however, fuels the fire and does not end in a resolution. When you are defensive, your voice becomes harsher. Conversely, when you are empathetic, your voice automatically softens. In most cases, when a customer is yelling at you, he wants someone to listen to him without interruption. Your job is to let him vent.

It’s difficult not to take personally the words from a shouting person, especially when the customer makes it personal by using statements like, ‘You’re stupid.’ (Yes, they do say stuff like that!) Try to listen for the underlying problem, not the emotion. When you pay attention to the problem, the facts, the specifics, you can ignore the offensive language easier and focus solely on the complaint.

Here are some phrases that work well:

  • ‘Tell me what happened.’
  • ‘Tell me more.’
  • ‘What can I do to resolve this for you?’

If you feel the urge to yell back, take a deep breath instead. Sometimes, you may have to step away and take a break. These techniques are better than yelling back at a customer. Yelling will only create a negative perception that will be hard to change.”

A Real World Example

Randy Peyser’s Story

Randy was attempting to make copies in a popular copy shop, which shall remain nameless, although it may rhyme with ‘Stinkos.’ The copy machine wasn’t working properly, so she called an employee over to fix the machine. It still didn’t work right, so she called over the manager. The manager went off on Randy, who stood in shock and disbelief as he ranted and raged about people breaking his machines. Randy had done nothing more than select the number of copies she wanted and hit the start button. When she got home, Randy faxed the manager a letter that read:

‘Dear Mr. Manager,

I am the woman at whom you yelled in your store this afternoon. I just want to wish you much happiness in your life because when people are happy, they treat others better.’

Randy never heard back from the manager, but she sure got her point across, didn’t she?

Moral to the story: Yelling at your customers motivates them to blog, Facebook and tweet about you – yikes.

Strategies to Turn This Around

Remain calm.

  1. Let them vent.
  2. Breathe.
  3. Don’t take it personally — focus on the problem, not the emotion.


Remember: A venting customer simply wants to be heard. So, Listen!

“People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing.”

— Will Rogers

© 2012 by Barbara Khozam Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this message may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission of the publisher.

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