Don’t Let the FU from a Customer Impact Your Day

Disclaimer: This post contains language of a sensitive nature.

Today, a customer said this in an email to our support team:

Can you please take care of this right now, I am fucking tired of wiping your ass.

I was on shift at this point and took over the case. Lucky me!

I reviewed the previous correspondence. Plenty of other colorful language from this customer, including some in ALL CAPS.

It was one of those sticky-rarely-ever-happens situations where, as much we hate to admit it, our hands were tied.

Information that we needed for this customer was coming from someone else. And, we were waiting on that someone else to get it for us.

And, that someone else has a standard method of communication which requires a bit of a delay in some cases.

Stinks, right?

So of course, I sit and stare at this fired up, frustrated customer email and try to think of what to say to someone who clearly doesn’t kiss his mother with a mouth like that. Or perhaps he does. I don’t really care to know.

I think about all of the things I wish I could make happen for this customer. Including giving them a hug, because it sounds like they have had a shitty day. Maybe his boss is breathing down his neck to get this situation taken care of and he’s afraid, therefore taking it out on us. Maybe he skipped lunch and is hangry. Maybe he’s constipated.

When it comes to customer experience, we do all we can to avoid the angry customer. To make sure processes are in place to give the customer the grandest experience. If customers are frustrated, we do things like diagnose their situation, see it as an opportunity to improve, run the metrics and reports to make sure this doesn’t happen again, put a new system in place for the front line agents, etc. etc.

And of course, there are plenty of times where customer support fails in areas where you could help, but the agent or company chooses not to.

But what about the times we really do want to help, but we simply can’t? We can’t do anything else but wait for the person who can help to get back to us. 

We can still…

…empathize with the customer.

…be honest with the customer by telling them the factual truth of the situation.

…discount their service.

…other awesome things can go here…

And sometimes, no matter what we do, we still get a big FU from the customer because we couldn’t appease them in the way they needed at that time.

At that point, it is up to you, as the customer service representative, to take care of yourself, not overreact and definitely not let this impact your day.

I myself felt the anxiety start to rise.

Before I reply, I take a breath. I remind myself that I’ve heard much worse throughout my career and this is just one instance of a stinky situation with an unhappy customer that no matter what I say, nothing will ever make them happy.

I respond with kindness, honesty and the truth.

I hit send.

Jenny Dempsey is currently the the Social Media and Customer Experience Manager for NumberBarn.com. She has worked at tech startups since 2005. She's the co-founder and regular contributor over at CustomerServiceLife.com. She's a certified health coach, but not the kind that forces you to only eat cardboard and deprive yourself of ice cream. JennyDempseyWellness.com, the company she started, was designed to bring a new type of wellness into the workplace, one that gives you permission to look deeper into yourself, rather than just on the healthy snacks in the break room. She is the mother to a toothless rescue cat named Chompers. Avocados and veggie tacos are the way to her heart. She's also a Hanson fan for life.

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