how to deal with rude customers

Ah, rude customers. They are an unfortunate reality for us small business owners and can be the difference between an awesome day and feeling the need to down a bottle of wine and take an angry nap. Trust me, I know what you’re feeling and have had the temptation you are fighting right now of starting an all-out internet feud (spoiler alert: it’s not worth it!). Through my wealth of experience dealing with many rude customers in multiple business areas, I have learned a thing or two about making the most of the situation and keeping all parties happy. Here is my definitive guide that will teach you how to deal with rude customers. 

How To Deal With Rude Customers as a Small Business Owner

Stay Calm

The first step is to keep a cool head. While going on a social media rant would probably feel great right about now, it will only spur on your negative customer and cast you and your business in a bad light. What you want to do instead is put on a smile, stay calm, and kill them with kindness. It’s a lot harder for a level headed person to be nasty to someone who is sweet as pie, so channel your inner Pooh Bear and be the bigger person in your response.

Practice Empathy

We have all had a bad day, so try not to demonise your mean customer as an all-out awful person whose sole purpose is life is to bring you misery. Chances are they have just had a fight with their spouse, or their kids kept them up all night. Maybe they spilt coffee all over their favourite pair of shoes. While there is no good excuse to be nasty, we are all human, and we all know what it’s like to lose our temper. Listen to the reasoning behind their complaint and try to practice a little bit of empathy before replying.

Identify the Problem

We hate to admit it, but we all make mistakes. Once you have calmed down and empathised with your rude customer, you might begin to realise that they actually have a point. This is good! It means that you are getting valuable feedback for your business, albeit in an unnecessarily negative way. Do your best to look through the rudeness and identify whether there is a credible issue your customer is raising.

Do What You Can

Once you know what the problem is, you can do your best to fix it. Many times when a customer is being rude, they won’t stop until they get what they want. Find out what it is they want from the exchange and, if it’s reasonable, give it to them. The trick here is to not give any special treatment. Do what you would for any customer who voiced the same concerns politely, no more, no less.

Know When To Engage and When Not To

When you aren’t sure how to deal with rude customers, it’s easy to get caught in the trap of folding to their every request. This is a slippery slope that sets the tone of how you will reply to all future complaints. It’s important to know when to cut your losses. No matter how much you empathise, some complaints are just completely ridiculous and need to be ignored or thrown out. Try to objectively view the situation and accept that, in some instances, the best thing you can do is sever ties with the customer altogether.

Be Grateful

I know what you’re thinking: why would you ever be grateful for a rude customer? Well, it’s because now you know. Even if they have given you no useful feedback whatsoever, you now at least know that this customer is not worth your time and will only bring you and your business down. You can now be grateful that they have revealed their true colours before you venture any further with them.

By using effective communication skills you could connect with even the rudest of customers and change their mind. Your feistiest (read: rudest) customers could also be the most loyal if you manage to turn them around and get them on your side. View rude customers as the ultimate sales challenge. It’s up to you to turn their negative view of you and your business into a positive. You’ll be surprised at how often it actually works.

Where to from here

If you feel stuck in your business and lack the clarity and strategy you need to move your business forward – I’d love to hop on a 30-minute discovery call to explore your goals, struggles and how I might be able to help move your business forward. Book in for your free 30 minute discovery call here.

Want to connect with likeminded business owners? My Facebook group, The Australian Business Collaborative, is the perfect space. Looking for more valuable blogs? Click here.

Have an awesome day,


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