3 times when it’s okay to let off a little steam with a customer

A china teapot is steaming and the lid has been removed to allow the steam to dissipateI’ve been on an anger kick lately, haven’t I? Well, buckle up because this will be another one full of what I hope will be some very gratifying advice for those tired of dealing with rude and disrespectful customers. Today is about learning when it is totally okay to let off some steam (that is, let ’em have it) with a customer. These are tried and tested, too!

3 times when you CAN let off a little steam with a customer

Let’s be real here: when you are a professional, you so often have to be a mature person and walk away without retorting or pushing back. That might be good for business, but sometimes you just want to bite back, right? Well, here are 3 situations where you can do so carefully without compromising your business!

  1. When they are insulting your professionalism: No matter what form this takes, you have a right to call them out for it if you want to. You are the educated and trained professional in this situation, not them. No matter how they may act or what the situation may be that led you here, you are still the professional who’s offering the service.
  2. When their failure to communicate leads to a problem: This happens in my line of work. A lot. If they “forget” to tell you something or just didn’t think it important enough to mention something until AFTER the fact, feel free to let them know that. Realistically, whatever that miscommunication was, it is their problem. You did your job as directed, and any changes due to that failure in communication will cost extra and take longer. For best results, make sure you have a warning about that in your estimate/contract, too!
  3. When they make threats or blackmail you: This is never, ever acceptable, and you are well without your bounds to make sure that they know that they’ve crossed a line. Whether it’s threatening to hunt you down or ruin you online with bad reviews about how “horrible you are,” let them know that you won’t be accepting this behaviour. If you have the option to report them, do it! Regardless of the result, it will send a message that this kind of behaviour won’t be tolerated!

The goal here, people, is to let off a little steam. Don’t lose your temper. Just be firm and let them know that what they are doing or asking is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated. Don’t use this as permission to just say whatever you want and tell yourself it was justified!

When CAN’T you let off steam with a customer?

There are also a few situations where it’s never appropriate to let off steam with a customer. Some of the ones that I have run into, or have heard about from others, include:

  • When the problem/cause isn’t the customer’s fault
  • When you can’t control your temper
  • When other customers are present

The whole point of letting off steam is to make sure that your customers know that they are nearing, or have crossed, a boundary. If that’s not what has happened, letting off steam is not going to achieve anything other than making everyone angry and causing a lot of problems if they decide to cause a fuss about it publicly.  

Did any of these surprise you? Do you have others to add to either one of these lists? If so, please share them below!

Business content writing

Kelterss View All →

Kelterss is an experienced freelance business writer and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in Creating Writing. Having served over 1100 customers while maintaining a 4.9/5 star rating, Kelterss is looking to focus her professional services in writing product descriptions and blog posts.

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