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I work in a service industry and a number of our customers are disabled. I am as sensitive to people with disabilities as the next person, but some of these customers are just plain jerks! They are rude, obnoxious, demanding, and unreasonable. My boss has said we have to treat them with kid gloves because he doesn’t want a lawsuit, but we don’t think we should have to put up with this kind of treatment, just because someone has a handicap.
A.I agree with your boss about the kid gloves, not because these people are disabled, but because they are customers. You’re in a service industry, and serving the public is no picnic. Anyone can exhibit the behaviors you describe and, if we’re honest, most of us will admit to a time or two when we were rude to the person behind the counter. But, we would probably argue that it was when 1) we were not being treated with courtesy, efficiency, and respect; or 2) we were just having a really bad day. I’m not saying that some of your customers aren’t a real pain. Everyone who deals with the public knows that there are just some mean, cranky people out there. But you have several choices. The first is to be absolutely sure that you are providing that “customer from hell” with the same first-rate service you would give to your favorite person in the world. That includes service with a smile, and listening to – or even asking for – suggestions on how to serve him/her better. Another choice you have is to acknowledge the customer’s feelings. Sometimes people rant and rave because they don’t think anyone understands that they are upset. Just hearing, “I know this is very frustrating,” or “I can see you’re really angry about this,” can be all someone needs to calm down. A simple, sincere apology is often a very effective choice in dealing with irate people. And, really, what does it cost you to say, “I’m sorry”? But if none of those work for you, there is another choice you can make that will solve the whole problem. You can get out of the service industry altogether. Some people just aren’t happy dealing with the public and its many moods. If that’s you, you might seriously consider a line of work where you would have more control over the people with whom you must interact.