Quell Training

Dealing with Aggressive Customers in the Retail Sector

Dealing with Aggressive Customers in the Retail Sector

The issue

The poll of 800 shop workers by ‘The Recruitment Website’ found that almost all of them had regularly suffered abuse with almost two out of three workers claiming that they had been shouted and sworn at.

In the workplace, one of the most difficult situations for employees is dealing with customers who are angry. At times the anger escalates to aggressive, abusive or even assaultive behaviour.

Have you been affected by retail rage? Is society becoming too consumer driven? Is the customer always right?

The retail sector is constantly being attacked over various subjects, but the clients we are currently working with, do see the benefits of training their staff properly and understand that dealing with aggressive customers is a subject that needs to be addressed.

The Solution

Recently we have been requested to design specific programmes for the retail sector as they have identified a clear risk to staff.

The problem in retail that we have encountered, is not just customer to staff, but also includes an array of different problems from groups of customers,

We have delivered programmes lately on how to effectively deal with various incidents, from having to approach customers in the changing rooms, to customers allowing their children to wreak havoc around the store, to having to deal with groups safely if showing actions that slightly lean towards anti-social behaviour. All of these have a level of risk to the staff but the issue is, that if handled incorrectly results can not only result in escalation but there is also the potential to lose that customer, and others, if not read correctly.

Training is quite obviously lacking in the retail sector at the moment. This may be due to financial stress and budget limitations. But good training should not be included in these cuts. The long term benefits outweigh the short term financial restraints. Should it be an industry standard that all staff know how to act accordingly or professionally when dealing with customers that are showing signs of frustration or aggression towards them?

Key Steps to Success

Recognising a situation using the THREATS model is the first step in diffusing a potential escalating situation.

  • Tense
  • Heated
  • Rigid
  • Engrossed
  • Abusive
  • Threatening
  • Space Invaded


If getting out of an aggressive situation is not possible then you need to develop the skills which will help you reduce extreme behaviour to a calmer state. The RESOLVE method will help you do this

  • Relax
  • Energy Matched
  • Stance
  • Openness (Honest)
  • Look & Listen Activly
  • Very / Acknowledge
  • Empathise

The Results

Quell’s comprehensive training initiative provide practical solutions to successfully managing violence risks and areas of behavioural safety that were proving expensive. With Quell’s expertise and assistance, decision makers in the organisation established root causes and unified key stakeholders and subject specialists to create a tactical response to the issue. Our training approach to conflict situations reduces risk for customers as well as staff and builds upon positive communication and customer service skills. Operational staff who have delivered training receive extensive personal development and the organisation gains expertise in-house.


Impacts of sound conflict management training can be profound:

  • Poor morale among staff and a poor image for the organisation is improved.
  • Staff recruitment and retention becomes easier.
  • Costs for absenteeism, insurance premiums and compensation payments are lowered.
  • Potential pain, distress or damage to employees’ health through anxiety or stress is lessened.

Want to know more then contact us at Quell


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