Dealing with Unruly Clients

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Unruly Customers

By Mr Retail

Today we are going to talk about our clients. To put it bluntly, they are tired, aggravated, and have shorter fuses. And that may be a good day……

In our store, we have had more negative reviews and unruly clients in the last four months than we’ve had in over a decade.

I have called out two clients this year and that typically happens once every five years or so. On one occasion the client apologized and ended up leaving us a glowing review. The other time, not so much.

One customer actually accused me of falsifying documents. I completely lost it and told him to leave and never come back, telling him I couldn’t believe he could ever think we would do that. He was the same guy that came back later, apologized, and left us a glowing review.

In times like these, a typical day as a store owner may involve significant time spent dialing for products to close or fulfill a sale in the pipeline. Then we have to deal with employees or bosses that are experiencing their own set of challenges. And now we have to deal with clients that will leave a bad review if they don’t like our haircuts. How much more of this can we take?

Given the current climate, we have changed our strategy. Until a client gets unruly, we allow them to vent. We assume, going into every conversation, that we need to be more gentle than normal and have a thicker skin at the same time. We need to be harder to offend and 100 percent focused on the outcome; making a sale.

Now, I will tell you one thing; I think there is a point where you have to stand your ground if a client is being completely unreasonable, as we did in the case above. But for me, I’m trying to be focused on being around in 2 years after this mess is over. Or maybe 3-5 years after our supply chain normalizes. If I allow myself to get caught up in the moment, I instantly lose the battle.

For the sake of yourself, your family, your employees, and your business, if your blood pressure starts to build, quickly excuse yourself for a bathroom break and calm down before you say something you will regret. Our industry needs you. I promise.

About Mr Retail
Mr Retail offers opinions and information on car audio retailing for CEoutlook. He wishes to remain anonymous. He has owned a retail store in this country for over 20 years now. Mr Retail loves what he does and loves the 12 volt industry and is happy to share his hard won expertise.

Photo: WikiHow

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  1. Very true and good points. Now try this at a wholesale level where the client is the retailer. Most are respectful then you get the ones who take the frustrations of dealing with their own frustrated clients out on the wholesalers and reps who are just doing the best they can with the situation they’re in.

  2. Empathy is always the best policy. It’s never about you, so you can’t take it personally even though it feels personal. It’s always wise to pause, take a deep breath and put yourself in the clients shoes. Having empathy and seeing it from the clients side has always gotten me out of the stickiest situations. I once had one client that was so frustrated with her weak Honda battery issues she didn’t want to make eye contact with me and just sat their fuming at me while we worked on her car. Of course it was totally unrelated to our work and I showed her video of the draw test and load test and explained how each test worked and what it was showing. She had a weak battery and someone told her her battery was fine and it was her remote car starter. Instead of getting mad I thought about how pissed I would feel if I paid $400 for something and someone told me that $400 accessory was causing all sorts of problems with my car. When your client is upset, you should always be gentle and treat them like your best friend who’s upset about something. Before she left she said, “You know I really wanted to stay mad at you, but you were just too nice”. She left with a new battery and a smile on her face.

  3. Yes as we get older in the business (40 years) we tend to have less patients with arrogant customers. We have plenty of negative reviews , most from customers who waited for their cars to be serviced and of course where to impatient . Reading this we decided to remove our well designed waiting area and instead fill it up with our stock of wooers and enclosures and such. Got a lot of flak from staff initially. This is by the way long before covid. However we found that by telling the customers there where not waiting areas , and they would have to leave the car for the day , we find a lot less frustration with customers. The most disgusting thing personally is when a customer does not appreciate the amount of time and hard work that is involved with what we do for them. ., Nor do they give credit for our expertise and found knowledge. There are so many of them and so few of us , they should appreciative what we do for them just as we need to appreciate their business. We do have a good amount that do have the attitude that is positive , however it’s always the bad apples that spoil the rest. they make you defensive and not the person you would like to be. If they only knew . We need our own social media with a list of undesirables to pre warn us.

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