Behind the Counter: Disgruntled Customers


I’ve been in the pawn business for over 20 years and you better believe that I’ve seen my fair share of unhappy clients. The first time you’re faced with an upset customer, it’s a lot to take in. Even the most experienced brokers will have their hands full when it comes to a really disgruntled customer who thinks they’re in the right. Throughout my history in this business, I’ve learned a few ways to diffuse a situation and help both the customer and shop owner come out feeling satisfied, reassured, and respected.

Don’t Take It Personal
This is probably the hardest one, and that’s why I put it first. More than likely, it’s their situation that is causing the outburst, not the way you’re handling their account. Show compassion and let them vent. At our core, humans are ultimately animals and we can sense true caring, and the lack there-of.

Lower Your Tone and Soften Your Body Language
Another tough one for us Type A personalities. Don’t stick chest out and try to exhibit dominance, take a step back and lean on the counter or wall to show an at-ease posture. If it escalates and the client needs to be escorted out of the store or the police need to be called, only then should you show any sign of dominance. Think win-win we it comes to tense situations.

Give Your Client Another Chance!
It’s better to give in on one battle then to lose the entire war. Take a step back and remember…being on that side of the counter is not a fun place to be. Help out where you can.

The End Game is to Get the Money and Create a Win/Win Situation
Many of your best relationships/clients will come from adversity. They came to you for a reason. Once they calm down and get through their crisis, they will reflect upon your interaction and realize that you truly tried to help them.

Social Media Outlets are Very Powerful
Anything can and usually will be exaggerated in a “bad” situation. Potential clients look at Google, Facebook, and Yelp reviews before making an educated choice. Do your best to stay above the bar on these forums.

Treat Your Clients Like You Treat Your Employees
It’s not as crazy as it sounds! They need some 1-on-1 time to evaluate their account, catch you up on their situation, and to be given guidance for the future. Set guidelines with them and hold them accountable to avoid future disagreements. Proactive behavior is key!

Empathy, not Sympathy
Empathy allows for revenue generation and future business. Sympathy allows for loss and being taken advantage of down the road. Keep the upper hand, but be kind. It will be remembered.

Ultimately how you handle your business is up to you, but it never hurts to take a moment and see how far your touch can extend into someone’s life. People come to you for a number of reasons, treating them fairly and building trust is a great way to turn a one-time client into a lifetime customer.