We call them the so-called “privileged” clients who thinks that, with the measly amount that they paid for product and services, it also included ownership of the person to whom they made the purchase. These are the clients who have the gall to shout and undermine the person’s capacity, upbringing, and dignity. In their minds, we are owned by them and they can do and say anything because of what they paid for. They see us as small people who deserve to be at the receiving end of their unbecoming and rude manners.

I read an article regarding a slapping incident that happened to one of the flight attendants of Cebu Pacific. The incident supposedly stemmed from the attendants failure to assist the passenger in handling her carry-on bag. The passenger even cited that it was the duty of the flight attendants to stow the passengers’ bags just like “bus conductors”. The female passenger concluded her Manila – Davao trip by slapping the face of one of the flight attendants without provocation. Now that is one rude and unbecoming b*tch on the flight.

I must say that I had my own share of these “privileged” clients who are so full of themselves that they actually think that they are over and above the people who provide products and services to them. I will not go into details but I will share my own story as I try to give consumers tips on how they can complain with grace while gaining the respect of the people in front of them.

Tip #1. Raising your voice will not get you what you want.

This is a very common mistake of a lot of clients. Clients think that, by shouting at the staff or the manager and in broad view of the public, they will get the resolution that they want. Intimidation will get you nowhere and it probably exposes you to humiliation in the public eye, not the staff. The staff are probably balking at your tantrums at the same time. The last thing that you want is to be escorted out of the premises with security on your side.

The best way to do it is to calmly call the attention of the staff or the manager and explain your concern. Nothing beats a good a conversation and there is a huge chance that management will be more understanding and might grant your request.

There will be times that you will get frustrated and you would want to explode. Do it with grace. Ask to be confined in a closed room with the staff and then get upset. You save yourself and the staff of getting embarrassed in public.

Tip #2. Stick to your own issue.

A lot of clients will always try to raise the issues of others as if they were suddenly designated as the official spokesperson citing different incidents. That is a big no. Accountability plays a huge role in complaints. The person who has the concern has to raise it. Let me put it simply – when a crime is committed, only the aggrieved party has the right to file a complaint or a case, not the neighbor or the relative who lives on the other side of town who heard the story. The same principle works in complaints. As a manager, I like to deal directly with those involved and not a third person relaying the story.

In the same way, you should stick to your concern so we can deal with it. Putting references like what you heard or what you read on the internet does not help in resolving your concern. In the end, the staff or the manager will resolve your concern based on the merits of your case, not on what you heard or read.

Tip #3. Questioning the person’s credibility will not make you a better person.

There are a number of clients who have problems with controlling their anger or frustration. They shout at the staff but nothing beats those who undermine the dignity or the credentials of the staff. I call them the “insta-managers” or the “insta-behavioral experts”.
They are the one who suddenly put themselves in the pedestal where they become experts in management and behavior. These clients start claiming that you are NOT qualified for the role that you are in. They question your credentials, your education, your management style, your leadership, and worse, they question your upbringing. They suddenly judge you and your credentials because of one measly incident. This is the lowest that a client can go.

Be wary of these actions as you do not really come out smart because resorting to this type of behavior just shows that you have a poor case from the start or a bad attitude. The staff that you question may have 10 years of experience under his or her belt that it taught them humility and wisdom. Enough humility and wisdom to just let you be. In the end, you come out on the wrong end in this situation.

Tip #4. The do-you-know-who-I-am client

This one is a direct cousin of #3. These are the clients who think that mere relationship affords them special discretion and privileges. They also think that namedropping a certain government or military official would automatically entitle them the respect of the staff or manager before them. They also think that by making the drop, management will accord favorable to them.

What you don’t know is that conversations behind the walls of the office mock the act of namedropping. Worse, you may be laughed upon because the person that you dropped does not even register to anyone in the office, not to mention that dragging the name can be damaging to the hapless official. So do yourself a favor and give your concern some balls rather than making a funny attempt to give us a scare.

Tip #5. Assaulting service or product providers, whether verbally or physically, can land you in jail.

Verbal and physical abuse by clients should never be tolerated by management. I have a very strong stand on this one. Unfortunately, there are still clients who think that by verbally or physically abusing a staff or manager is a right that comes with their purchase. It is not. It could earn you jail time and I encourage that those who encounter these kinds of clients pursue a criminal case to serve as a lesson.

The purchase that you made is for the product and/or services and does not include domain over the staff. I will leave this at that.

Tip #6. Calling the manager is not the solution.

A lot of clients think that talking to the manager when they cannot get through the staff will get them their desired resolution. It is not the case, most of the time. You need to understand that each company has protocols to follow and that each staff are oriented towards these rules. The staff knows the bounds of their decision-making and how to arrive to these decisions. Hence by asking for the manager, you are questioning the decision-making capacity of the staff.

A good manager, on the other hand, will always stand by the integrity of his or her staff. This is empowering your staff to handle situations and it is one way that a manager can grow the staff.

So the next time that you want to speak to the manager, make sure that you have something reasonable to present or wait for the staff to offer to raise the issue with their manager.

Tip #7. Social media is a two-edged sword.

Social media is very powerful that some people have managed to create a stir when they posted their complaints online. However, social media is a two-edged sword. It is a good venue to raise concerns BUT it can also slice you up when the story becomes clearer. Remember the case of the model who claimed of bad service from Philippine Airlines, she was able to generate a lot support at the start of her campaign to the point that some started bashing the company. As the story unfolded later on, it was revealed that it was her mistake and the whole situation quickly turned against her to the embarrassment of her initial supporters.

So when you start threatening to put the incident on social media, you also needs to understand that the whole story will unfold for everyone to see. Expect the company to respond accordingly when it goes live. It can go nasty both for both you and/or the company. If in the end, the case seems to favour the company then expect that the backlash on you can be nastier.

At the end of the day, I follow one rule – respect begets respect. A client who treats me with respect have a higher chance of getting a favorable resolution from me compared to those who scream or question my style of management. I do not believe that the customer is always right. They have rights but they are not always right. Concerns can easily be addressed if both parties listen and find an amenable resolution. Throwing your tantrums, showing off, and, worse, trying to project that you are the most blessed human in the world is not the most effective way to get a resolution to your concern or complaint.

Always remember that the customer service that you receive from our end, whether good or bad, is a reflection of the training that we received from the company BUT how you deal with us, the product or service providers, during these times is a reflection of YOU.