And the award for the worst kind of customer goes to...

"I am over it! They had 2 months to get this right and yet, 15 days past the due date and it's still not fixed! Seriously, this isn't good enough and I'm going to complain to.......uuummm.......oh why bother!? I've already said how unhappy I am and they are still messing me around so a formal complaint isn't going to change anything. BUT I will tell everyone I know NEVER to do business with them."

Sound familiar? A good friend of mine recently had the above giant sized rant to me (it included a few more juicy words) but as exhausted as my good friend was by the situation, when I suggested she elevate her complaint, she rolled her eyes, sighed and said "No."

Like most unhappy customers, my friend believed that registering a formal complaint would be a waste of her time. And that's the truth of it. Most unhappy customers won't elevate a complaint. Most unhappy customers defer to using a passive aggressive behaviour to make them feel better about poor service and for a business, this is the WORST kind of customer.

Examples of passive aggressive customer behavior:

Loud sighs  - When you are apologising and/or explaining what you are doing to correct the error or fix the problem.

One word answers - In an abrupt tone of voice.

Word of Mouth/Mouse - saying nothing to you but share the bad experience vocally or visually with anyone and everyone.

Gone - You never see or hear from the customer again.

There has never been and will never be a business that meets the needs of all customers, all of the time. Mistakes, errors, problems and delays will happen but the good news is, most customers accept this reality. Most customers are forgiving of an element of human error and understand when the unforeseen happens. The desire to complain comes from....

How the employee/s concerned respond to the problem.

Employees need to master 3 things so they can minimize the chance of creating a passive aggressive customer:

1. Empathy. Understanding what annoys customers and recognising the 4 complaint behaviours.

2.Communication. How to lead an emotional customer to a rational state.

3. Record Keeping. Why the customer, the business and the individual employees benefit from keeping complaint and compliment records.

To find out how to build a team of Customer Service Professionals, book your FREE Customer Service Analysis today. Customer Service Professionals leave customers feeling valued and respected and can spot a potential passive aggressive customer by the raise of an eyebrow, a moan in their tone or some huff in their puff.

By CATE SCHRECK - Service Excellence Coach and Author of The A - Z of Service Excellence