A customer yelled at me today. I did not deserve it. And I am not just saying that because I was receiving it; my co-workers told me later how other customers made a point of telling them how they felt bad for me and that maybe they should check to make sure I was okay (which is very sweet. Thank you stranger customers).
The customer who yelled at me has a history of difficulty and I do feel bad because I don't know how much of it they can help. The part that sucks is that customer service people are expected to be nice. So when a customer freaks out and starts in, you have very few ways to defend yourself. Sure, there are company policies, but we all know those are gray areas. If the customer said those things to me out in public, on the street or public transportation or whatever, I would shut it down. But because it was at my place of work and they are a customer, I do not have that leeway.
Another difficult aspect is that there is always an audience of other customers. I have a feeling that my customer would respond better to a bit of sassiness, frankness, and attitude, but that could be read wrong by nearby customers. They wouldn't necessarily know that was my way of dealing with a problem child and then I would look like a jerk.
Ugh. People are weird.