Dealing with Threatening Customers at your Supermarket

As an employer, it’s imperative that you ensure the safety of your employees at all times, especially when dealing with customers who display threatening behaviour. No matter what the issue may be, aggressive conduct towards your staff is never acceptable. In this article, we’ll discuss a few ways to safeguard your employees from threatening behaviour and how to handle such situations.

Identifying Threatening Situations

It’s important to understand what constitutes a threatening situation. These situations typically involve erratic and aggressive customers who make your staff feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Examples of such behaviour include pointing at your employees, raising their voice, using abusive language, screaming, making verbal threats, breaking physical items in your store, or becoming physically aggressive with your staff.

Managing Threatening Behavior

It’s crucial to have a risk assessment procedure in place to help your staff deal with such situations effectively. This procedure should involve imagining potential situations that employees could find themselves in and how customers might react. With these hypotheticals, you can create a plan for how your staff should respond in such situations, ensuring that they’re not caught off guard.

In your risk assessment, it’s important to:

  • Create a policy on how to handle different situations
  • Implement the policy when these situations arise
  • Train your staff on how to handle such situations
  • Be flexible and consider moving more confident staff to the front of the store to deal with customers if some employees are non-confrontational
  • Be alert and have an emergency protocol in place

If a customer becomes verbally aggressive, it’s essential to know how to de-escalate the situation. When dealing with an angry customer, apologize for the inconvenience, empathize to let them know that you understand their frustration, and paraphrase their words back to them to show that you’re listening. Even if you disagree with the customer’s point of view, these steps are crucial in de-escalating a situation that could turn threatening.

Supporting Staff

If your employees have dealt with a threatening situation and need support, it’s crucial to provide them with access to services such as counselling to help them recover. It’s essential to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety and well-being of your staff while also handling difficult situations with customers effectively.

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