How do you handle a rude customer or prospect?

Photo courtesy of flickr user vshioshvili

I was recently reviewing a video I made ten years ago that offered advice about how to handle rude prospects and was reminded of an incident from that time in the distant past. I had gone for an in-person quote for cleaning her home and noticed that her husband kept making snide comments about making sure the oven and windows were clean, too. I knew he was going to be a problem child, but I put this out of my mind when I offered up the quote. The email I got back from her really ripped into me, telling me that my prices were ridiculous and who did I think I was to charge more per hour than the client made per hour? They took it as a personal offense that a maid would make more than they made.

Now, your first inclination when you receive an email like this is to immediately reply and put them in their place. But I knew I would regret that, so I took a deep breath and picked up the phone and called her. I told her I got her email and that I wanted to explain further about our services and pricing, about how we thoroughly vet and train our staff, have been in business for over 25 years. I told her that there are a lot of other services out there and that I was sure she’d find someone who could fit her budget. She thanked me for being professional and said she appreciated my advice.

I even offered to be a sounding board in case she got a quote that sounded too good to be true, and left the conversation on a positive note. I was able to take the high road and ignore her rudeness by taking a deep breath and getting over it. A big part of becoming mature in business is learning how to hold your tongue when you know it would feel good to zing someone back, whether it’s an employee or a customer. But you never know who they know or who they network with or where you’ll run into them again later. They may become your biggest fan even if they don’t hire you!

So, here’s what to do when you receive an upsetting email or phone message:

  • Take a deep breath. Wait. Take another.
  • Go ahead and write out your response, but don’t send it! Wait 24 hours before sending or returning the call.
  • The next day, review what you wrote. Almost always, you will end up deleting your reply and responding with something more positive.

This is just a sample of the kind of help I can offer in my 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course. My course is a no-holds-barred program to teach you how to get out of the field and what the right way is to add customers and staff quickly. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

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