Business crime prevention advice: Dealing with aggressive and offensive customers

Business crime prevention advice: Dealing with aggressive and offensive customers

Customers who become aggressive or abusive are generally not angry with you personally, but are angry at the lack of perceived customer service from your business, or that the sold product has not met their requirements.

Customers who make a complaint often put forward their point of view with a prepared speech. Give them the opportunity to make their statement without interruption. This will allow them to vent their anger. Interrupting them or trying to defend your position may provoke the person to become more abusive or aggressive.

The customer will be more approachable to engage in conversation once their initial anger has passed.

Try to remain calm, polite and attentive, regardless of the customer's anger. Displaying appropriate behaviour to an aggressive person may influence them to calm down and behave normally.

Deal with the customer's concerns objectively, and you will find the aggression is likely to decrease.

If your attempts to neutralise the situation fail, follow these important rules:

  • Ask the person not to be aggressive or abusive.
  • If your request is ignored, politely but firmly ask the person to leave the store.
  • If the person refuses to leave the store, call 111 and ask for Police.
  • If you are alone in the store, stay in public view.
  • If you cannot call Police from a position of public view, move to the shop entrance and ask someone else to call the Police.
  • Do not argue with the customer and never turn your back on them.
  • If possible, ensure you have someone else with you, or that someone can see what is happening.
  • Do not try to touch the person or escort them out of the store.
  • If the customer assaults you, ask staff members and other customers to take note of the person's appearance (refer to the Witness Memory Enhancement form, see pages 48 & 50) and their actions.