How do you deal with explosive customers?

  1. 1
    I know you're supposed to remain calm, but that seems to add fuel to the fire...
    Joe V likes this.

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  2. 46 Comments...

  3. 18
    Frankly, the more "out there" they get, the more calm I become. It marks a clear line of who the reasonable party is and who the reasonable party is not.

    Usually I ask them plainly what I can do to make them happy right in this moment. Sometimes that takes them aback and they admit honestly that nothing would, they just need to vent. Sometimes they name something totally outrageous and then I am able to smoothly let them know I will need to get others involved as that is outside of my scope of control. And sometimes it stop the fit in its tracks and a goal is named that I can then meet, thus discharging the situation completely. No matter what the reaction winds up to be to that question, it helps get on the table what we are really dealing with - a solvable problem? A vent session? Or unrealistic expectations?
    CrufflerJJ, Merlyn, catlover314, and 15 others like this.
  4. 5
    I tell them I understand that they are upset, but I will not tolerate being yelled at. I let them know that they can come talk to me when they are ready to talk in a civil matter. Then, I walk away.
  5. 18
    Customers ??
    scottrho, Soon2BNurse3, hoopschick, and 15 others like this.
  6. 6
    'Walk away?'
    That would be considered an audacity. We are expected to take the 'beatings' (it's a given- no matter whose fault it is) from our customers, in other words, the people who pay our bills.
  7. 9
    I have found a long period of silence after the tirade is finished unnerves people.
    Pause for long enough without jumping to defend anyone and many people realize how rude they sound and appologise.
    After that, there is the opportunity to talk out a solution.
    Being a parent and having dealt with toddler tantrums has taught me some skills in that area.
    If possible, defuse a situation before an explosion occurs.
  8. 25
    Quote from GLORIAmunchkin72
    'Walk away?'
    That would be considered an audacity. We are expected to take the 'beatings' (it's a given- no matter whose fault it is) from our customers, in other words, the people who pay our bills.
    Healthcare facilities are for patient care. Healthcare facilities are not designed for customer service, regardless of what hospital administrators want the public to believe. Before anyone jumps down my throat, I'll illustrate the crucial difference between patient care and customer service. Keep reading to see my point.

    The chef at the Hilton will provide excellent customer service by preparing a juicy steak and baked potato covered with several pats of artery-clogging butter for the patient with coronary artery disease. The pastry chef will go out of his way to display excellent customer service by baking an entire sugar-laden red velvet cake for the noncompliant diabetic patient. The bellhop at the Ritz-Carlton will provide excellent customer service by escorting the COPD patient to a lush patio where smoking is allowed.

    As long as customers are paying for the services to be rendered, employees in the hotel, hospitality, and tourism industry will do these things for the sake of great customer service. After all, they want the 'paying customer' to return someday. However, healthcare workers should not have to put up with these butt-kissing behaviors. Healthcare facilities are evolving into Burger King fast food joints, where the 'customers' can have it their way.
    amoLucia, CrufflerJJ, JTwin, and 22 others like this.
  9. 4
    At first, I will apologize, even if it is not my fault (i.e. if they ask 'when will the doctor be in?'). A little "I can see that you are upset..." can be helpful, but if they are really hot about something that may just add fuel to their fire.

    As they escalate I will remain calm and hear them out...sometimes they just want to get it off their chest. I am not going to try to defend myself or my actions for their perceived slight. If they feel that way it was unintentional.

    If they keep going and going--at this point they are just spitting fire. I will then tell them "I see your point, but I have other patients that require my help" and politely excuse myself (still calm). If they follow me and or threaten me at any point...call security.
    CrufflerJJ, Gold_SJ, lindarn, and 1 other like this.
  10. 4
    Like somebody already said, I get silent and take all emotion off my face. Many times they feel stupid when they realize how they sound and they are not going to get a reaction. Some apologized, some don't. I never argue back, sometimes I ask them do they want to speak to my manager/supervisor/charge nurse. (This is to only show that you are not scared of getting in trouble)

    If they are too aggressive or cursing harshly at me, then I tell them that is inappropriate and I will come back when they calm down.
    jalyc RN, Gold_SJ, Not_A_Hat_Person, and 1 other like this.
  11. 5
    Quote from GLORIAmunchkin72
    We are expected to take the 'beatings' (it's a given- no matter whose fault it is) from our customers, in other words, the people who pay our bills.
    No, we are not. If they want to express anger, that is fine. They are not entitled to beating us (even if it is a figurative beating). Plus they are not the ones paying our bills (I've noticed the individuals most likely to be really irate are the least likely to pay their bills).
    jalyc RN, scottrho, Artistyc1, and 2 others like this.


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