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Stop Watch Archives Quick Tips for Calming Truckstop Customers

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail, Operations


Stop Watch Archives is a regular column that features highlights from a Stop Watch article from our archives. Stop WatchNATSO's bimonthly magazine, provides in-depth content to assist NATSO members in improving their travel plaza business operations and provides context on trends and news affecting the industry. Delivery of Stop Watch is a member only benefit. Join NATSO today to receive a copy of Stop Watch every other month. 


With today’s technology, complaining customers can broadcast their thoughts far and wide in real time. The upside of that is that once retailers know more about their customers’ concerns, they can address them and turn the experience around. Addressing complaints can show people that you’re human and give them a solution to their problems, but to make the most of the situation, it can help to know the type of complainer.

Rebecca Morgan, author of Calming Upset Customers, knows dealing with upset or angry customers raises the stress level of business owners and their staff. She shared the following tips to help calm customers and turn the situation around. The tips were originally printed in the November/December 2012 issue of Stop Watch magazine:

  • Remove the upset customer from the main customer area, if possible. She rants and raves to get attention and knows that many people will give her what she wants to shut her up quickly.
  • Listen fully and don’t interrupt. If you do, it will escalate the customer’s anger. Take notes and look up often to maintain eye contact. Assume body language that shows you’re interested and concerned.
  • Don’t take upset customers’ rantings and ravings personally. Don’t get emotionally hooked. When you let him or her push your buttons, you lose. When you respond emotionally with anger, sarcasm, tears, you can’t respond rationally. He wants to upset you because he thinks you’ll give him what he wants to get rid of him.
  • Make it a game or challenge to see how many upset customers you can turnaround.
  • Look for the gifts upset customers offer you. These gifts are what they can teach you about dealing with ugly human behavior. The better you deal with them, the fewer upset people you’ll have in your life. They’ll see through your body language and composure that you are confident you can find a solution without getting rattled.
  • Understand that obnoxious customers are often embarrassed because they made a mistake and want to blame it on you.
  • Respond by being reasonable, firm, pleasant, mature and professional to show them that you’re going to do what you think is right no matter how obnoxious they get. They think that being rude is the only way to get action.
  • Don’t give away the store to shut her up. That rewards her behavior and teaches her and others that acting belligerently is the way to get what she wants.
  • Use the “broken record” technique, firmly, yet politely, repeating what you can do for him.
  • An important concept to remember is that you won’t please all people. You should do the best you can, but there are some customers your organization can do better without. It is management’s responsibility to determine if this customer is one that should be encouraged to utilize someone else’s services.

/// Read the original full article, Calming Complainers.

Photo Credit: Minerva Studio/

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About the Author

Amy Toner

Amy Toner

Toner markets NATSO products, services and meetings. She is the content editor of NATSO's core websites, Stop Watch magazine and Highway Business Matters biweekly articles. In addition, she provides creative services across all departments. Toner joined NATSO in 2006. Prior to joining the association, she served as director of membership services at an association for ambulatory surgery centers. Toner lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and son.

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