Respond to suspect activity

Respond to suspect activity 

by Betty Hintch, editor, First-Rate Customer Service Forum

During the holidays, you will serve more customers than usual—and you could come face to face with desperate customers who will steal or deceive to meet the demands of the season. If you suspect illegal activity, follow this advice to avoid endangering yourself:

  • Be prepared. Learn your organization’s policies for handling theft and other dishonest acts. You should have them memorized so that you can act quickly and appropriately.
  • Involve your supervisor and/or security personnel. They are trained to handle these types of situations.
  • Don’t try to apprehend a thief on your own. If a customer seems dangerous or threatening, follow your organization’s policy for contacting the local police department.
  • Be direct. If the dishonest act doesn’t present a dangerous situation, remind the customer that it isn’t allowed. Example: “Sorry, but our rules don’t allow more than one coupon per purchase. However, if you would like to come back to our store tomorrow and use the second coupon, I will be happy to assist you in picking out a matching coat for the outfit.” 

Managing sticky situations comes down to good communication skills. Master the eight most common problems with the online training course “Communicating with Customers.”

Last month’s poll

First-Rate Customer Service Forum readers know how to calm angry customers. Half of the respondents to last month’s survey said that their best method for handling difficult customers is to repeat their complaints to ensure understanding. That also calms the customer by signaling the rep is serious about offering a solution. The other half of respondents said they offer a solution as quickly as possible.

Offer solutions to difficult service problems that keep the customer and your boss happy. “Keys to Dealing with Angry & Frustrated Customers – Resolving Conflict without Giving Away the Store!” is an audio CD that features tips to defuse anger and reach agreements that balance the interests of customers and organizations.

Special thanks to those who provided feedback to last month’s survey. Read on to share your challenges during telephone conversations with customers.


First-Rate Customer Service Training Kit is an essential resource for developing the front-line employees in your organization into confident and effective representatives of your brand. Customer service reps will discover how to: 

  • View service situations from customers’ viewpoints.
  • Act in the best interest of the organization to please customers.
  • Avoid phrases that irk customers and damage your organization’s reputation.
  • Handle the most difficult customers with confidence.
  • Turn service situations into greater sales.
  • And so much more!

This resource includes more than a dozen guidelines that show customer service reps step by step how to handle the most challenging situations they will encounter. They will learn how to assess each situation and quickly adapt their responses. The result: reps who shine in every service interaction.

Learn more!


Train the easy way. We’ve packaged a budget-friendly program with proven tips for winning customers!

Customer Service PowerPack includes multiple copies of our tip book and a companion PowerPoint presentation for your next team meeting.

 Click here to order your copy today.

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