Customer service isn’t always sunshine and roses. There may be times when you need to refuse service to a customer, and handling that type of situation can be difficult. Discover how and when to deny customers so you can move on with your day as quickly and easily as possible.
In Canada, the federal Human Rights Act prevents customers from being denied service based on numerous discriminatory factors such as race, religion, sex, and age. Additionally, each province has its own human rights code. If you’re going to refuse service to someone, it must be because of their actions.
Clear-cut examples of reasons why you may need to refuse service include violent or threatening behavior, intoxication, theft, and other illegal activities or infractions of store policies. You may also need to ask a customer to leave if they are making other customers feel uncomfortable in any way. This is important because it helps you to retain customer loyalty. After all, people want to feel comfortable and safe when they’re in your place of business, and one negative experience could drive them away for good.
The first step, whenever possible, should be deescalation. Using positive language, try to resolve the situation and stop it from escalating. For example, instead of just telling someone they need to leave, you could tell them that you appreciate their business but they’re in violation of store policy and they’re welcome to return at a later date when they’re no longer in violation.
If deescalation doesn’t work or isn’t an option, politely refuse service. You should have written guidelines on hand that you can show the customer that clearly state what they’re doing wrong and why they’re being asked to leave. Always involve management so the customer knows that the refusal is coming from a person in a position of authority. Make sure all of your employees are aware of your policies and how to enforce them so everyone is always on the same page.
Of course, every situation is different, but always try to end the interaction on a positive note whenever possible so you can deescalate the situation and possibly even salvage the customer relationship. When it becomes clear that the situation isn’t going to improve and you do need to tell them to leave, be kind yet firm, and if things get out of control, turn to law enforcement.