Unhappy With Our Service? Don’t Abuse My Staff!

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I previously spoke about transparency and dealing with customer complaints and issues when there are service issues. I noted that it can be tough and it’s far from easy at times. However one thing that I didn’t get into was “abuse”, as it wasn’t really that pertinent to the topic I was talking about.

Unfortunately it is an issue, albeit one that only stems from a minuscule percentage of our clients.

It’s pretty simple. If you have an issue with a service, be it ours or some other provider’s, you’re entitled to contact the provider and lodge a complaint. You’re entitled to express how unhappy with a service you are. You should let providers know when their services aren’t working as advertised. I’d never dispute that.

However what you should not, and I’d argue, cannot do is get abusive with customer service staff. Apart from anything else if you’re being abusive to them they’re less likely to want to help you. Why would they want to help you if you’re being rude, aggressive and downright abusive with them?

Personally my view on this is very simple. I pay my staff to do their jobs. Most of the roles are customer facing to a greater or lesser degree and all staff need to provide our customers with a good, if not excellent level of service. That’s their job, that’s what they’re paid to do and if they don’t want to do that then they probably should look elsewhere for employment.

BUT they are NOT paid to take abuse from customers. They are not paid to be the subject of racial slurs, sexist comments, threats of physical violence or abusive and foul language. Sure, clients may get upset and irate, but there’s a fairly big difference between that and some of the ridiculous attacks some of our staff have been subject to over the years. Internally I’ve always maintained that staff could terminate communications if a customer got abusive ie. warn them verbally to stop using the kind of language etc., with us and if they continue politely terminate the call. We’ve also had some “interesting” issues with clients refusing to speak to our non-Irish staff, or conversely making racial slurs against the entire Irish nation!

None of this is new, but like so many little things, these are issues that I’ve wanted to address over time.

So we’ve now made a minor, yet important, change to our terms of service by adding the following text:

Blacknight is committed to dealing with any customer complaints reasonably, impartially, and as quickly as possible. In this regard any queries or complaints can be put directly to our specified team at: customerservice(@)blacknight.com
Please note that Blacknight has a duty to ensure the safety and welfare of our staff. To this end we will not tolerate unacceptable behaviour by customers which is targeted to our staff. Unacceptable behaviour would include, but is not limited to the following actions:
Aggressive or abusive language,
Foul Language,
Refusal to co-operate
Unreasonable refusal to co-operate
We would request that Customers desist in using abusive behaviour. If we are of the opinion that a Customer is using unacceptable behaviour to our staff, then the following actions can be taken by Blacknight:
Immediate restriction of communication with the Customer
Immediate termination of the Agreement between the parties
Report being made to An Garda Síochána.
Legal Action.

We may not be a huge company, but I’d like to think that we do our best to provide our staff with a comfortable and pleasant working environment and recognising the kind of treatment that some of them can be subject to is important. Hopefully we won’t have to use that clause in our terms of service often, but I know it will, unfortunately, get used.

Note: An Garda Síochána is the Irish police.

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