One of my clients has a monthly pulse, which they share with the business nationally all the good news stories in service. This is a brilliant way to reinforce what good looks like in service interactions and is a sure way of positively shifting the dial in a service culture.
I have seen customers behave poorly, and I know I have been guilty from time to time myself, however, this next story shocked me when I read it and it reminds me that yes, customers have bad days too. I’ve taken an extract from their newsletter below:
Vanessa had to reinforce her service values when dealing with one particular customer. On a particularly quiet afternoon, with only one of the two registers operating at the time, a customer approached the counter and stood directly in front of the “REGISTER CLOSED” sign, placed her item (an ice cream) on the counter, and simply pointed at it as an indication that she was ready to purchase.
Vanessa explained that the particular register was closed, but she would be able to assist at Register 2, the customer took the opportunity to swear and throw her ice cream towards Vanessa. At this point, she had to choose between responding in kind, refusing to serve the customer, or to “kill her with kindness”.
To her credit, 
Vanessa decided to show the utmost customer service to someone clearly having a bad day, completing the purchase with an extra-kind and understanding attitude. She showed Respect for a customer without knowing what she may personally have been going through, took Ownership and showed absolute Courage in a difficult and potentially unsettling experience, remained Positive, and did her best to Simplify the experience to enable the transaction to be completed as quickly as possible for the customer.
A safe and secure workplace for all team members is non-negotiable for us in our organisation but 
Vanessa showed that a little heart, especially in what can often be a stressful environment for a customer, can go a long way.
All we have when we face difficult customers is how well we respond, the meaning we attribute to that moment.
In the story above we could choose to throw the ice cream back at the customer, or as Vanessa did, take a breath, keep calm and rise above that poor behaviour and “kill them with kindness”.
I later found out that the customer returned to Vanessa half an hour later and apologised for their behaviour. Vanessa impacted that customer more than selling an ice cream to her that day.
We never know what others are going through. We don’t need to be martyrs and put up with customers behaving badly, however when we make assumptions, we keep people at a distance.
When looking at ways that we can be of service, it can transform the way we approach our work, our relationships and help humanity in a multitude of ways.
Jaquie Scammell
‘Love Being in Service’