Best Wishes for the Festive Season
December 23, 2020

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas and a safe, healthy and happy 2021.

From all at Assessment Services Ltd.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from edie!
Careers England Newsletter: Issue 157

Careers England’s Chair and Executive Director to Meet Gillian Keegan, 3/12/2020

Careers England has been seeking a meeting with Gillian Keegan, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills since she assumed the portfolio. The meeting will raise a number of important issues, including: Investment in independent careers guidance from careers professionals for young people in schools and colleges; enabling the National Careers Service to meet the increased demands upon it by the rise in unemployment as a consequence of the pandemic, and how a joined-up Government approach to the Plan for Jobs can achieve more.

Union Learning Fund
Careers England has provided its support to the TUC in defence of the Union Learning Fund which has been notified by Government that it will have its funding withdrawn. Meetings have taken place with the TUC to extend our offer of  support. The petition can be accessed and signed in the following link:

Workforce for the Future- Skills Commission Inquiry
The Skills Commission is inviting submissions to a public call for evidence as part of its ongoing inquiry, the Workforce of the Future, The Inquiry focuses on careers education, information and guidance and is targeted at schools, colleges, universities, businesses, careers service providers and third sector organisations. Whilst the call indicates that not all questions need to be answered by all organisation, many of the questions are directly relevant to the work of Careers England members and therefore individual responses would help to ensure that our messages are represented in the evidence collected. The call also provides an opportunity to highlight important data, internal research and analysis and case studies.

The Careers England Board will be making a submission to the inquiry and encourages members and partner organisations to do likewise.
The closing date for submission is 18th December 2020, which can be accessed via the following link:

Careers England signs up as policy partner to Engineering UK in research into STEM engagement/ careers activity in schools – now and the future

Engineering UK are undertaking a survey of schools to gather evidence of engagement in STEM related career activity. The research will include case studies of good practice culminating in the production of a report that will focus on schools’ ability to deliver effective STEM careers activities/ engagement. It will seek to answer the following questions:

  1. How well are schools delivering against ambitions in relation to STEM as set out in the careers strategy for England?  Does their ability and resources to do so vary by characteristics of the school e.g. deprivation, % FSM, size?
  2. What needs to be changed or improved in how schools deliver careers information, advice and guidance to enable young people from all backgrounds to consider engineering as a potential career and understand the educational pathways to pursue this?
  3. Do schools have the resources and ability to provide effective STEM engagement and careers activities for young people, regardless of where they live, their gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background or disability?
  4. What are the long-term challenges for schools with respect to delivering STEM engagement and careers activities and what specific challenges or opportunities has the pandemic brought on?
  5. What can and should government do to support schools to provide STEM engagement and careers activities as part of their overall careers programme?

The survey will be conducted in the period December 2020 and January 2021, with a report published in February 2021.

Task group information

The Careers England Board is reviewing its Task Group activity. Consideration will be given to establishing new Task Groups focusing separately on NEET and on Digital Service Delivery.

The Career Development Institute
The Career Development Institute has launched the Career Development Awards 2021. There are eight awards given for excellence in personal achievement, best practice and research and technology. The Notes for Entrants 2021 and Entry Form for 2021 are on the website. 

Careers and Enterprise Company publishes its report on evidence of the Return on Investment of Personal Guidance

Education and Employers Research – Online research library marks its tenth anniversary
Free to access and searchable by keyword, it features summaries of a wide range of studies with abstracts and links to the full reports:

Nesta’s New Report: Mapping Career Causeways: Supporting workers at risk

Automation is changing the landscape of work, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This report provides guidance on how workers (in the UK, France and Italy) can transition out of at-risk occupations and into lower-risk roles. the report can be accessed here:

Quality in Careers Consortium – QiCS

Work is underway with Awarding Bodies on implementing the Board’s Guidelines on virtual assessments of schools and colleges working towards the Standard, the first-ever virtual relicensing panel for Career Connect was successfully completed.

A proposal for a “National Endorsement” of existing quality awards for careers education in primary schools was agreed by the Consortium Board and work will be undertaken to this end in liaison with Awarding bodies. Support received also from DfE and CEC.

Spending Review 2020
There were two big labour market priorities for the Chancellor in last week’s Spending Statement: How to get employment growing again next year, and how to help the unemployed to fill those jobs. It includes a the £3 billion commitment for a new ‘Restart’ programme for the long-term unemployed and a £300 million boost to help maintain funding levels as more 16-19 year olds stay on in education.  The government has also committed more of the National Skills Fund, and made some tweaks to apprenticeship rules particularly around unspent levy funds.
To find out more view Tony Wilson, Director of the Institute of Employment Studies, overview of the Spending Review and how it relates to employment and skills:

The Careers and Enterprise Company’s annual statement, previously titled A State of The Nation summary, has been published :

City and Guild Group-  Act Now Report or Risk Levelling Down
City and Guilds have co-authored this report with Emsi.

DWP Touchbase: Roundup of Recent DWP Announcements 25th September 2020
September 28, 2020
DWP Touchbase 25th September 2020
Kickstart Scheme gateways list 

If your organisation or one of your members would like to take part in the Kickstart Scheme but have fewer than 30 placements to offer, DWP has published further advice together with a list of organisations across England, Scotland and Wales that have expressed interest in acting as a Kickstart gateway. 

Kickstart gateways can apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant on behalf of a group of employers and will provide the support each young person needs to make a success of their Kickstart role, increasing their chances of securing sustainable employment in the future.

Find someone to apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant on your behalf

The Kickstart Scheme is a £2bn initiative to help young people claiming Universal Credit, to move into the world of work. It forms part of a range of employment support initiatives announced in the Plan for Jobs in July. 
If you would like to make an application to become part of the Kickstart Scheme, you can find information here.   
Coronavirus measures 

This week, the government announced further national measures to address rising cases of coronavirus in England. 

More information on the changes is available on GOV.UK

Please can you share this update with your members and audiences via your channels.   
 New package to support and enforce self-isolation 

From 28 September, people will be required by law to self-isolate if they test positive or are contacted by Test and Trace. To ensure that people on lower incomes are able to self-isolate without worry about their finances, people in work and in receipt of benefits will be eligible for a new Test and Trace Support payment of £500. 

To be eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment, an individual must: 
– have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace either because they’ve tested positive for coronavirus or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive;
– be employed or self-employed;
– be unable to work from home and will lose income as a result; and
– be currently receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit. 

Local Authorities will be working quickly to set up these self-isolation support schemes and we expect them to be in place by 12 October. Those who start to self-isolate from 28 September will receive backdated payments once the scheme is set up in their Local Authority. 

Find out more   
Winter Economy Plan The Chancellor has outlined additional government support to provide certainty to businesses and workers impacted by coronavirus across the UK. The package includes a new Job Support Scheme to protect millions of returning workers, extending the Self Employment Income Support Scheme and 15% VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism sectors, and help for businesses in repaying government-backed loans. Find out more 
ESFA Update: 20 May 2020
May 21, 2020

Latest information and actions from the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academies, schools, colleges, local authorities and further education providers.


ESFA Update further education: 20 May 2020

ESFA Update academies: 20 May 2020

ESFA Update local authorities: 20 May 2020

Information for FE
InformationLatest information on coronavirus (COVID-19)
Reminderall new learners should be on apprenticeship standards from 1 August 2020
Informationprovider relief scheme
InformationJuly financial collection from colleges
Informationcollege accounts direction
Informationsubcontracting declarations
Informationapprenticeship service – completed status
Information for academies
InformationLatest information on coronavirus (COVID-19)
InformationProcurement Policy Note 02/20: Supplier relief due to COVID-19
Information for local authorities
InformationLatest information on coronavirus (COVID-19)
Reminderlocal authority adult education budget and apprenticeships funding and 16 to 19 funds return for 2019 to 2020
InformationProcurement Policy Note 02/20: Supplier relief due to COVID-19

Published 20 May 2020

Business Leaders Launch Keep Britain Working Campaign
April 21, 2020

Business leaders have launched a new campaign to protect jobs and livelihoods due to the repercussions of COVID-19.

Keep Britain Working will help re-deploy workers from struggling sectors to in-demand ones and help those who have lost their jobs with practical advice and support.

The movement comes just days after the Office for Budget Responsibility predicted the UK economy could shrink by 35%, resulting in 3.4 million people unemployed.

Each of the business leaders, including Lord Alan Sugar, Timpson CEO James Timpson and Severn Trent CEO Liv Garfield, have pledged to support workers through this period of uncertainty.

Politicians Penny Mourdant, Steven Brine and Caroline Nokes have also pledged their support.

James Reed, chairman of recruitment website REED and co-founder of Keep Britain Working, said businesses should work together to reduce the potential economic impact of the pandemic. Pricing, How to Post, Key Information, and FAQs

“None of us have ever seen anything like this. The shock waves now are much larger and faster than they were in the recession of 2009. We’re told that this is likely to be the worst recession in at least 100 years.

“There will be a seismic impact on employment and now more than ever we need to come together to ensure that the consequences are not catastrophic.”

Some businesses are still having to make redundancies despite its Job Retention Scheme. This is no doubt a taxing process for HR leaders.

Dawn Brown, head of transactional services at MHR, said HR should not take these conversations personally.

She said: “Recognise that even though employees might suspect their jobs are under threat, how they react will vary from relief to anger, shock and disbelief. They may direct their feelings at you, the HR representative, so be prepared and don’t take it personally.

“You should also avoid emotive language such as ‘ I know how you feel’, ‘this is difficult for me” or “I don’t know how to say this’.

Brown also recommends setting up a Frequently Asked Questions document to anticipate immediate questions that will come up such as notice periods and when employees will be paid.

“It’s important to prepare for the meeting, to be aware that a conversation over the phone or via Zoom or Teams requires delicate handling and has its own etiquette – it’s not the same as doing it face-to-face.”

Lord Alan Sugar, chair of the Amshold Group, added: During these challenging times, it is more important than ever that we come together to do everything that we can to help save jobs and protect both lives and livelihoods.

“I hope this campaign helps people stay in work, or where they have unfortunately lost their jobs, move quickly into new ones.”

Counting the Cost of Dissatisfied Customers
April 14, 2020

Dissatisfied customers can cost your business dear. Not only is there a high likelihood that they will leave your organisation and never come back, but they will also tell other people about their experience.

The following technique offers a simple way to calculate the cost of losing dissatisfied customers for your organisation or department.

Armed with these figures, you can impress on your team the importance of excellent customer service at all times. The calculations involved in this technique can also help you to put a business case for customer service training and/or process improvements to senior colleagues.

Getting Started

To begin this technique, you will need to find out your organisation or department’s Total Annual Revenue figure. You will also need to know how many customers/clients your organisation / department currently has. A pen and a calculator are also required.

The research behind the figures

The calculations involved in helping you to assess the cost of your dissatisfied customers is based on the following research:

  • Typically, 25% of an organisation’s customers/clients are dissatisfied with the service they receive. 
  • Of these dissatisfied customers, 70% of those whose complaints are not satisfactorily resolved will become ex-customers. 
  • On average, a dissatisfied customer will tell 10 other people about their bad customer service experience. 
  • Of those people told about the negative customer experience, 2% will not purchase services from the organisation in question. 

Making the calculation

You will find a worked example of the calculations below, together with a blank sheet for you to make calculations for your organisation.

Sample calculation 

Total annual revenue = £500,000

Number of customers/clients = 1,000

Average revenue per customer = £500,000 divided by 1,000 = £500

Number of dissatisfied customers = 25% x 1,000 = 250

Number of dissatisfied customers who leave the organisation = 70% x 250 = 175

Lost revenue from lost customers = 175 x £500 = £87,500

Number of people told about dissatisfied customers’ experiences = 250 x 10 = 2,500

Number of those told who won’t buy from your organisation in future = 2% x 2500 = 50

Additional potential revenue loss as a result of these potential customers not buying = £500 x 50 = £25,000

Total annual revenue lost due to poor customer service = lost revenue from lost customers + additional potential revenue lost so: 

= 87,500 + £25,000 = £112,500 

or 23% of the organisation’s total revenue. 

Cost of poor customer service for your organisation template

Total annual revenue (A) = 

Number of customers/clients (B) = 

Average revenue per customer = (A) divided by (B) = (C) 

Number of dissatisfied customers = 25% x (B) = (D)

Number of dissatisfied customers who leave the organisation = 70% x (D) = (E)

Lost revenue from lost customers = (E) x (C) = (F)

Number of people told about dissatisfied customers’ experiences = (D) x 10 = (G)

Number of those told who won’t buy from your organisation in future = 2% x (G) = (H)

Additional potential revenue loss as a result of these potential customers not buying = (C) x (H) = (I)

Total annual revenue lost due to poor customer service = lost revenue from lost customers + additional potential revenue lost so: 

= (F) + (I) = 

or  X  % of the organisation’s total revenue.

Source: Maxine Kamine, Customer Service Training, Pergamon Flexible Learning, 2006.

ESFA Update: 8 April 2020
April 8, 2020

Latest information and actions from the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academies, schools, colleges, local authorities and further education providers.


ESFA Update further education: 8 April 2020

ESFA Update academies: 8 April 2020

ESFA Update local authorities: 8 April 2020

Items for further education
Informationlatest guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19)
Informationmaintaining online delivery including via existing sub-contracting arrangements with AEB funding
Informationbreaks in learning in the apprenticeship service for employers and training providers
Items for academies
Informationlatest guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19)
Informationcoronavirus (COVID-19) financial support for schools
Informationsuspension of the 2020 Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) consultation
Items for local authorities
Informationlatest guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19)
Informationcoronavirus (COVID-19) financial support for schools
Informationupdated schemes for financing schools guidance for the 2020 to 2021 financial year
Informationsuspension of the 2020 Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) consultation

Published 8 April 2020

Anderson and Zemke’s Model of Customer Service
April 6, 2020

In the book, ‘Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service’, Kristin Anderson and Ron Zemke, founders of the US-based consultancy Performance Research Associates, set out their model of customer care. [1]

The model is a combination of basic customer service principles and practical suggestions. It is equally applicable to the private, public and voluntary sectors. During this time of world crisis, where the traditions of customer loyalty are being stretched as individuals and organisations seek alternative solutions to everyday issues, it might be time to revisit your customer service model to ensure it remains current and fit for purpose.

The model is based on the following simple tenets:

1. To the customer, you are the company

The customer’s impressions of a company and its effectiveness are based entirely on the one-to-one contact he/she has with individual representatives. It is therefore imperative that staff are adequately trained to deal with customers in a polite and responsive fashion. Given the impersonal impression that many people have of businesses, interpersonal contact allows an organisation to take on shape and substance.

2. Reliability

Consistent reliability is a cornerstone of excellent customer service. Consequently, it is of vital importance that all promises that are made are kept. This means that the promises must be realistic in scope: it is better to say no, than to make an unrealistic promise and let the customer down.

3. Responsiveness

In the modern marketplace, competition is increasing and response times to requests are falling. Increased use of the internet as a market for products and services will result in much greater consumer choice. One of the key ways in which purchasers will differentiate between competitors is by response time. As Anderson and Zemke point out, deadlines, and the ability to meet them, will become the yardstick by which the customer measures success or failure.

4. Reassurance

Customers are much more likely to give their business to organisations that can be trusted to deliver. A reputation for competence and reliability will differentiate successful businesses from the merely ordinary. In addition, employees should demonstrate confidence in their work, as it instils confidence in the consumer.

5. Empathy

A key skill in the modern marketplace is the ability to recognise the customer’s emotional state. Furthermore, behaviour should be modified in response to this state, allowing the employee to respond in an effective and professional manner. This point is of particular importance to front-line customer care workers, such as call-centre operatives. Often, they will have to deal with upset customers. It is therefore unfair to expect an employee to be able to cope with this kind of situation without comprehensive training.

6. Internal and external customers

Customers are not exclusively external. A customer can be defined as anyone who benefits from the work that you do, or suffers when your work is done poorly. This definition includes colleagues; they ought to be treated with the same care and respect as the external customer.

7. Honesty

Anderson and Zemke argue that honesty is the only policy when dealing with customers. Apart from the consequences of being caught in a lie, the authors suggest that honesty is the only effective way to manage expectations.

8. Bending the rules

If required, Anderson and Zemke advocate bending organisational rules and policy to deliver better service. They suggest that experienced professionals should be capable of understanding the limitations of rules and how best to direct efforts accordingly.

9. Listening

Active listening is the most effective means of discovering exactly what the customer wants. It is vital to identify the customer’s specific and unique needs. Frequently, he/she will be able to suggest the best means of delivery. Customer consultation via survey and feedback is therefore important. However, careful listening at the one-to-one level is of even greater importance.

10. Intelligent questioning

Following on from their point about listening, Anderson and Zemke advocate careful questioning. This is of particular relevance when the customer is unsure of what they want.

11. Non-verbal communication

When meeting with customers face to face, careful attention must be paid to non-verbal communication. Body language must be in tune with the verbal message to avoid disorientation and scepticism.

12. Telephone manner

Before contacting a customer by telephone, it is important to be mentally prepared to deal with any situation that may arise. Questions and suggestions should, therefore, be anticipated, helping to ensure that there are no unwelcome surprises.

13. Written communication

Good writing is an extremely powerful part of quality customer care. As with telephone communication, the message and tone of delivery should be carefully prepared. In writing, as with all aspects of effective customer service, precise attention needs to be paid to the details.

14. Sales and service

Anderson and Zemke reason that sales and service are two sides of the same coin. Regardless of job title, quality customer service is the ultimate aim. This goal should not be sacrificed for success in sales.

15. Thanking the customer

The authors are strongly in favour of thanking the customer on a daily basis. It is important to remember that in delivering a product or service, an organisation is not doing its customers a favour. In fact, it is the customer who is bestowing the favour. Thanking them for this is a key way to ensure that they feel appreciated.

16. Service recovery and apology

Inevitably, service will at times break down. On these occasions, sensitivity is required. Attention must be paid to needs, wants and expectations. When solving any problem, the organisational representative should always begin with a sincere apology.

In the event that customers become angry or seemingly unmanageable, “I” statements communicate the need to calm down. By saying “I will do what I can,” the employee communicates the desire to help. In addition, this demonstrates that the identity of the company and the individual are, at times, distinct.


In their book, Anderson and Zemke argue that the principles outlined are the basics for quality customer service. These basic tenets are equally applicable across sectors, and provide a basic framework for meeting and exceeding the customer’s needs.

[1] Kristin Anderson and Ron Zemke, Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service (Amacom, 1998).

ViewPoint: Careers Expertise in a Time of Crisis – Rethink Current Payment by Results (PBR)
March 30, 2020

By Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE, Director, DMH Associates & Associate Fellow, University of Warwick IER.

Across England, National Careers Service Prime Contractors are facing imminent collapse at a time when their support services and expertise are most needed in local communities, Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE warned today.

Dr Deirdre Hughes

Careers England has been in conversation with government about practical and ‘common sense’ ways of ensuring Careers Companies do not financially collapse in this time of national crisis. The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) model of payment by results (PBR) which includes undertaking face-to-face and group sessions is now unworkable. Other DfE funded initiatives such as the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) have slackened their PBR rules and organisations such as the National Lottery Fund are actively trying to support their providers. Equity and fairness in these difficult times is essential.

Careers Companies are monitoring job losses and opportunities, they are also using technology to provide moral and practical support to people who have suddenly lost their income and/or livelihood. These companies are working extremely hard to identify and mitigate the risks that CovID-19 poses but they are already experiencing a significant impact which is only likely to get worse:

  • All staff are working remotely to comply with Government Guidance, many will have to be furloughed as there is not enough work to be undertaken virtually and no funds to pay their salaries.
  • Job centres are working remotely and are only dealing with claims for Universal Credit, which they are deluged with. Making referrals to the National Careers Service is not a priority. They are the biggest referrer to the National Careers Service and therefore the impact on the PBR contract is significant.
  • There are concerns about the viability of some sub-contractors, for example, some have temporarily shutdown
  • All planned events have been cancelled (rightly so) which impacts significantly on Careers Companies’ ability to claim PBR funding from the ESFA unless this stringent approach is relaxed.
  • The largest PBR payments relate to the achievement of Jobs and Learning Outcomes, staff are finding not surprisingly that customers think it is insensitive to be asked if they have managed to find work or training opportunities at this time.

Many Careers Companies are charities and have very little in the form of reserves to call upon. They are all experiencing a reduction in income from the National Careers Service work and the rate of reduction is accelerating. Some companies are trying to secure bank loans to help with cash flow and enable continued trading but this is proving difficult primarily as they have few assets to offer as security.

The ESFA needs to step up and adopt a common sense approach in this unprecedented situation to help Careers Companies survive the challenging months ahead and to ensure that they are in a position to support the many people across England whose jobs and livelihoods will be affected by this crisis. 

The support needed includes:

  • a relaxation of the PBR element of the contract and compliance rules – as a temporary measure
  • an adoption of a payment on profile for a limited number of months
  • a broader definition of priority groups given a large percentage of the population will be affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

When this pandemic is over, young people and adults will need reliable and impartial careers information, advice and guidance which offers hope, guidance and opportunity. Most importantly, individuals will need to be able to ‘put bread on the table’ and thrive in a new social and economic landscape.

Managing Your Emotions With Hostile Customers
March 16, 2020

Imagine that you’ve just picked up the phone to answer a customer’s call, or a client has unexpectedly arrived in person at your office. Out of the blue, you find yourself on the receiving end of some shocking rudeness. And you’re left gasping.

How do you manage yourself, calm the situation, and build bridges with this person, who remains important to your business? And how do you recover from the experience and prevent such a situation happening again?

Although customer service and sales people most commonly encounter such situations, everyone has “customers.” Anyone who you interact within your workplace who looks to you for results or some other output is a customer.

In this article, we explore five strategies for dealing with rude customers, and we look at how to handle the aftermath of these difficult confrontations.

Sorting Unhappy Customers from Rude Ones: 

If a customer is unhappy about the quality of goods or services that he or she has received from your organisation, he is perfectly entitled to express his dissatisfaction. And if he remains calm and civil,

despite his frustration or anger, you’ll most likely be willing to help him with his grievances. You’ll try hard to put things right, whether it’s replacing a faulty toaster or compensating him for a missed family holiday because of an over-booked flight.

Occasionally, though, despite your welcoming manner, expert knowledge and willingness to help, there are people who can’t control their anger and resort to verbal abuse, offensive language, and even threatening words or behaviour. When you’re confronted by these rude customers, it can be difficult to know how to respond or defuse the situation.

Strategies for Handling Rude Customers: 

Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada, have studied “incivility” between customers and employees. Their findings show that employees who expect to encounter rude customers at work react far less strongly than employees who normally enjoy good customer relations, but who face unexpected rudeness.

The researchers recommend that organisations train their staff to deal effectively with irate customers, even when those customers are generally viewed as highly civil. And they add that employees should deal with rude customers at the time of the encounter, rather than try to repair a damaged relationship after the event.

The consequences of not handling such situations effectively can be serious. The UBC study cites customer incivility as a cause of stress, emotional exhaustion, absenteeism, and reduced performance. And if an employee reacts negatively to the customer, it threatens an organisation’s reputation for customer service and can impact customer retention.

Coming face to face with a raging customer can be a frightening experience. So, what do you do if you are suddenly on the receiving end of a stream of bile and abuse? Here, we explore five strategies for dealing with rude customers:

1. Stay Calm, Don’t React.

The first thing to do is to remain calm and not respond in kind. If you are faced with an unexpected verbal attack, a natural defence mechanism is to “bite back.” Something as simple as taking some deep breaths can give you a vital few seconds to gather your thoughts and avoid retaliating in a way that might see you being viewed as the aggressor.

Tip: Your personal safety is paramount. If you feel threatened by an angry person, trust your instincts and leave the room immediately if you feel unsafe, or if you’re too upset to resolve the situation on your own.

Ask your boss or a trusted colleague to work with you to resolve the situation. It might also be appropriate to report the incident if the person is completely out of control.

The UBC research suggests that rude customers “can violate an employee’s sense of dignity and respect, and trigger negative emotions that can motivate employees to react negatively” toward that customer. So avoid “fighting fire with fire.” Remain calm, controlled and tactful, otherwise, you risk inflaming the situation further. Keeping your emotions in check can defuse the encounter. If your interaction with the customer is by email or on social media, you may have worse rudeness to contend with. People often say things online that they’d never say in person, but resist the temptation to give them a “taste of their own medicine.” Take a deep breath. Go for a walk to disperse the tension. Do whatever it takes to gain distance before you hit “send.” When you do write your reply, keep your cool, state the facts, and make clear your willingness to help.

2. Don’t Take It Personally.

Chances are, your customer is angry about a bad product or service and you are just the unfortunate target for her frustration. Instead of taking her rudeness to heart, try to empathize with her. She wants to know that you understand the inconvenience and disappointment that she’s suffered, so you need to show her that you do. Developing emotional intelligence is a useful strategy for managing your emotions and sensing other people’s emotional needs. 

Occasionally, though, it really does feel personal. A customer will approach you with the sole purpose of insulting you. 

Despite the provocation, try to remember that the customer doesn’t know you personally. He was probably angry or having a bad day before he met you, and had already decided that he was going to “raise hell” with somebody. In these situations, it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re just the unlucky one in the firing line.

Tip: One way of learning how to deal with rude customers is with Role Playing. Our article can help you use this technique to prepare for a variety of challenging or difficult situations.

3. Listen and, If Appropriate, Apologise.

A rude customer might want to vent her frustration. She wants you to hear every word that she says, so listen actively, no matter how unreasonable she sounds. Demonstrate that you have taken in what she’s said by occasionally reflecting back her words. For example, use phrases like, “So, it sounds like you’re saying that,” “What I’m hearing is,” or, “Is this what you mean?”

Be aware of your body language while she speaks. Keep your arms unfolded, and maintain appropriate eye contact to demonstrate your open attitude. And when you reply, keep your voice low and even, to keep things calm.

Saying sorry might run against every instinct you have if you’ve been subjected to a barrage of abuse. But if the customer’s grievance is genuine, a prompt apology may staunch the flow of rudeness and provide the basis for a better relationship.

4. Stand Firm.

You may have apologized and be going all out to help your customer, but you don’t want him to walk all over you. If he’s factually wrong or if he’s not letting you get a word in, you may need to be more assertive to get your message across.

If you’re a team manager, your team member may ask you to step in to help resolve the situation. That means balancing your responsibility for ensuring that you satisfy your customer with the duty of care you have towards your people or your organisation.

In situations when a customer’s behaviour has become unacceptable, it’s important to tactfully let her know that she’s “crossed a line” – for example, when she’s using insulting, threatening or racist words or behaviour. It may be possible for you to negotiate a solution, but it might be one of those rare instances when it’s best to let the customer go.

Tip: Make sure that you agree with your manager or head of department what behaviours are to be deemed unacceptable in this way.

5. Solve the Problem

The best way to disarm a rude customer is to involve him in taking away the problem that’s fuelling his behaviour. Ask him what he feels would be an acceptable solution. You then have something concrete to work toward.

Most customers just want a fair resolution, but a rude customer may make unrealistic or extreme demands. If so, remind him that you want to help, and counter with suggestions that are fair and reasonable, and negotiate towards a mutually acceptable deal.

Look for quick, simple solutions. Many problems that lead to customer rudeness will have occurred before, so your company may have policies that allow you to offer refunds or replacements, for example, with little fuss. Fast resolutions satisfy the customer, minimize stress, and end difficult situations swiftly.

Dealing with the Aftermath: 

Encountering a rude customer can be a highly stressful experience, so it’s important to take a breather afterwards. If you can remember that very few of your customers behave in this way, you’ll gain some valuable perspective.

It’s also important to think through what happened, to consider whether the customer’s rudeness reflects a bigger problem or a recurring issue. You may need to report the situation to your manager – for example, if the problem is beyond your remit to resolve – or follow up with the customer, much as you might prefer not to.

If you’re a manager, remember that it’s not just about the customer’s feelings. An encounter with a rude customer will eventually end, but your team members are the people that you work with and manage every day.

So, if one of your team has been dealing with a rude customer, check in with her to make sure that she’s OK. Choose your time well – straight after the situation is a good time for some team members but not for others. Discuss what was said, to ensure you have a full picture of what occurred, and find out if there’s anything you need to look into in light of her experience.

Key Points

Rude customers differ from the merely unhappy in that they can’t control their anger. 

They are unreasonable, unfriendly, and prone to using verbal abuse, offensive language and threatening behaviour. But you’re in business to serve your customers, so it’s important to try to help them.

When dealing with rude customers, it’s crucial to control your own emotions, and to counteract their inflammatory behaviour with calm, considered responses. 

Remember, try not to take any comments personally, listen actively to your customer, and apologize if it’s appropriate to do so.