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Respect At Work

We thought it might be best to make our customers aware of the way our staff have been briefed to treat challenging, customer facing circumstances while on site. This way, customers are aware of the standards and conduct you can expect from us, and from this, infer the sort of behaviour we expect from our customers once in our showrooms. This memo has been sent to all Duckworth Staff. 

Respect at Work

Duckworths have launched a new page on our website covering ‘Respect at Work’ and the standards of behaviour we expect from customers and visitors, and setting out how we will handle situations which fall short of those standards or worse, become threatening or abusive.

Tools and guidance

Duckworths do not tolerate abusive behaviour, or expect colleagues to have to deal with it in the workplace or over the telephone, including but not limited to any form of racism or discrimination. In the unfortunate event you experience abusive behaviour or language, in particular threats of or actual physical violence, then you should take the following actions –

  1. Take a deep breath, stay calm and composed and don’t raise your voice


  1. Let the customer vent and do not engage them until they’ve finished


  1. Apologise i.e. say sorry that they’re experiencing a problem and/or are unhappy


  1. Speak firmly but respectfully and use positive language (which can help get the situation under control)


  1. Thank the customer for bringing the issue to your attention, let them know that you understand how they feel and that you want to help them resolve the issue


  1. Tell the customer what you can do to help, breaking it down into steps and provide a timeline. Follow through on your commitment.


  1. As a customer service professional you are not obliged to put up with abusive behaviour – let the customer know that you are here to help but will have to end the interaction if their behaviour continues.


  1. If the customer is not able to calm down and continue the conversation with you then give them the following options –
  2. Show them to an office where a manager will join them to discuss the problem;
  3. offer to arrange for a manager to call the customer to discuss the problem
  • complaining to the Ombudsman via the details on our website;    

Suggested techniques you could use –

  • Don’t take the abuse personally – it’s not about you, you are doing your best
  • Do not argue – if they bait you, calmly refuse to engage (‘I’m not here to argue with you I’m trying to help you’)
  • Introduce yourself to the customer – people often respond differently to a person known to them
  • Address the customer by name and if you don’t know their name don’t be afraid to ask – this personalises the encounter, makes them more responsible for their actions and can de-escalate the situation
  • Try to establish control. Try to work out what the agitated person needs, encourage them to make decisions and offer face-saving possibilities.
  • Document the encounter
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your manager

Suggested phrases you could use –

  • I’m sorry that you’re feeling upset. Can we talk about how we can resolve this situation?
  • Please don’t speak to me like that. I want to help fix the issue, but first, I need you ____(to calm down/stop shouting/act more appropriately).
  • I’m happy to help, but first, you need ____ (to calm down/stop shouting/act more appropriately).
  • I understand how frustrating this must be for you. However, speaking to me in this way isn’t acceptable and won’t get us anywhere. We can talk about how we can solve the problem together instead.
  • I understand how frustrating this is for you, but speaking like that isn’t going to solve the issue. Let’s try to talk about how we can find a solution that works for you.

Threatening behaviour

Should you be unfortunate and experience threatening behaviour from a customer or visitor then you should try to do the following –

  1. Take immediate, preventative action if you think a situation may become violent.


  1. Ask the potentially violent individual's partner or friend(s) to help control them if appropriate


  1. get help as soon as possible, for example by calling for a colleague or manager, or calling the police


  1. warn the individual of your organisation's policy regarding violence and let them know they are being watched, pointing out any video cameras 


  1. Take the customer to an office to speak to a manager who will look to resolve their issue


  1. Always be polite


  1. Calmly ask the customer to leave and assure them a manager or senior manager will call them straight back to resolve their issue