Customer Experience News & Trends

What to do when a customer hits on you

Customers building rapport with you is one thing. But outright flirting — or worse, sexual harassment — is another. Here’s what to do when customers go too far.

Most customers know the clear line that’s separates business and pleasure. But when you deal with customers day-in, day-out, every so often a customer will cross the line, perhaps with too much unsolicited flattery, inappropriate comments or unwanted advances. You want to nip that kind of customer behavior in the bud before it turns into sexual harassment.

When a customer does things to make an employee uncomfortable, he or she’s gone too far. That’s when employees need to take action to stop the inappropriate behavior and set the course for a continued business relationship.

Speak up

Here’s what to do when customers go too far:

  • Draw your line. Building rapport through casual conversation poses a slight danger. Some customers may interpret friendly banter as flirting — and respond in kind. So stick to neutral conversations about weather, sports, industry news and world affairs.
  • Share. If a customer is flirting with you, tell your boss immediately. That way if the situation escalates, your boss is already in the loop and can intervene as needed.
  • Lay down the law. If a customer becomes an admirer, and suggests a get-together, tell him or her kindly that you have a personal policy to never date customers.
  • Don’t accept. If an admirer sends gifts, thank the customer and explain that you can’t accept them, but you’d be happy to share them with your colleagues since helping customers is a team effort.
  • Keep your hours. Never give customers your personal numbers, whether they’re admirers or not. Someone who is professional now may grow an interest in the future. Only share your work numbers and the hours that you are available for the company.
  • Be kind — to a point. An admiring customer may feel foolish once he or she is rejected, so continue to act kind and professional. However, if the admirer persists after a rejection, get your boss involved.

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