Many service reps, especially those in call centers, deal with customers who are irritable, impatient, annoyed, and downright rude. We know that kind of attitude comes up when people are confused, frustrated, angry or disappointed. Here’s the question answered in this article: Why do so many customers call or come in with a bad attitude already in gear? Why do they start things off that way?

Squeaky Wheel Syndrome

Many people start out with a bad attitude because they believe the best way to get what they want is to be a pain. They believe the best way to get good service is to complain—perhaps loudly.

This belief has been around for a very, very long time. Those who study such things say the earliest known written version of “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” (grease being a good thing) is about 600 years old.

One of the most popular current versions is “I want to speak with your manager.” That can come up any time, but let’s focus on customers who demand to talk to the manager up front.

Demands take more guts to deal with; however, handle it the same way whether the comment is dripping with attitude or a polite request. Here are two examples:

“Can I help you?”

“Be glad to get you the manager. I may be able to help you. Can I give it a try?”

Using the second example is often best. By mentioning “manager” you show that you’re listening. By saying you’ll be happy to get the manager you avoid making it seem like you’re putting another obstacle in the customer’s way. This can defuse things a bit.

The second example includes asking to try to help the customer yourself. Asking permission like that spares you from wasting too much time on someone who is going to insist on talking to the manager no matter what.

Reality Check

Of course, some customers will indeed insist on talking to the manager. Sometimes you will need the manager to address the customer’s issue. And sometimes the customer is so hard to deal with you should hand them over to the manager whether they ask for it or not.

Think about it

Now I have a question for you: When you have a problem or complaint, do you contact customer service with a bad attitude? If you do, try something different next time. Try being pleasant. You can always add attitude later.