All customers are important in spite of their different attitudes and behaviour.
It is equally important to know how to deal with them accordingly.
The way you treat an honest customer is automatically different from the way you treat a dishonest customer.
Sometimes there is need to show some customers tough love in order to put them in line.
For instance, if a certain customer fails to honour their promise to pay for goods and services at an agreed time, the supplier may cancel the credit facility and ask for cash on delivery.
This will certainly guard the organisation against inconveniences associated with bad debts and at the same time help the organisation and the customer to preserve their mutual relationship.
These are some tips which organisations can use to handle unethical customers:
1. Never Make Assumptions
Trying to make sense of people by making up a story is very unprofessional and very embarrassing when the real truth differs with the assumption. Some people are always doubting Thomases’ due to underlying trust issues and they carry that baggage to their work life.
Never be judgmental at the first point of interacting with a client. Even in our day-to-day lives, it is bad to rush and stick certain labels on people or customers. Labels such as a cheat or dishonest are awful, especially when there isn’t concrete evidence to prove one deserves to be called that.
Everyone deserves the benefit of doubt at first encounter, but it does not mean trusting them entirely.
Instead, as an organisation it is proper to do a background check on every customer before closing a transaction, and if need be, double check for possible mistakes and make sure you are on the same page.
Misunderstandings and misinterpretation of certain things is normal, but it is important to confirm with the customer if you mean the same thing before the order is processed.
Customer service personnel should never assume that everyone understands their jargon, especially when a lot of it is has technical terms.
It is better to ask as this reduces future finger-pointing.
True professionals do not put the blame on an innocent customer as doing this will leave their organisation with egg on the face and create non-existent obstacles. They look for facts or the correct information and they are non-judgmental and use a neutral tone. It is better to put the agreed terms on paper, sign for them and file them for future references.
2. Preserve the value and dignity of the office and your personal brand.
When the correct information and facts presented truly point out that, indeed, the customer wanted to fleece the organisation, it is prudent to remain resolute, professional and calm at all costs.
In some organisations, staff members forget to draw the line and take the issue personally.
They insult or become rude to the customer when all is required is to solve the issue cordially without causing a scene.
Guilty customers can be managed through proper channels set by the organisation.
These channels are there to preserve the dignity of the employees while maintaining the ego of the office and reputation of the organisation’s brand.
Many local supermarkets do, however, have a challenge when they catch thieving customers.
The customers are beaten and their pictures are pasted on the organisation’s notice boards for all to see.
Customers are human beings and they make mistakes.
It is important to have a meeting with them and clarify the reasons behind their actions.
If the organisation cannot deal with the extent of the unethical behaviour, it is, therefore, proper to surrender them to the law enforcement agents to take over the case.
3. Second Chance
Not all unethical behaviour is intentional; some may actually be honest mistakes done out of ignorance or pure oversight by the customer. In some cases, the customers may actually be loyal customers.
If that happens, organisations should be willing to give that customer a second chance.
They should monitor if the customer is remorseful and is willing to make amends.
This act of giving a second chance is actually borrowed from a teleological viewpoint (involving explanation of phenomena in terms of purpose rather than cause), which is advocated by British philosophers Jeremy Bentham and David Hume.
It weighs the total positives that the organisation benefits from the unethical behaviour versus the negative effects.
Thus, management who are for this view tolerate customers who behave unethically but lawfully because their actions bring benefits to the company and some customers.
4. Fire the customer
Some customers are unrepentant despite being warned.
When signs are clear that the customer will not change, it is in the organisation’s best interest to severe their relationship with him/her and even blacklist them.
There are numerous examples of companies that collapsed after trying to put up with deviant customers.
Such practices may even affect national economies and it is only fair to do away with such customers and save the majority from sinking.
5. Policies and Regulations
There are customers who find pleasure in scamming organisations.
These scammers are usually the first ones to spread bad publicity about the organisation if they don’t get their way.
To counter such scams, organisations must have policies that clearly and explicitly state that the organisation does not accept responsibility for certain happenings or events.
This insulates the organisation from financial prejudice or legal consequences.
Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba is a marketing enthusiast with a strong passion for customer service. For comments and suggestions, she can be reached on or on 0712 979 461