Dealing with abusive & aggressive customers

The Unite Health & Safety Reps work in “Partnership” with the Bank’s Physical Security team to promote staff security.  We have regular liaison with the local Regional Security Managers to identify and address issues.  

There may be occasions when staff have to deal with customers whose behaviour towards them, their colleagues or members of the public is not acceptable. Be assured that Barclays and Unite in partnership, will not tolerate this type of behaviour and will take instances of abuse based on; age, race, ethnic origin or nationality, gender or transgender status, political beliefs, sectarian or religious beliefs, sexual orientation particularly seriously.

Abusive or aggressive behaviour may constitute the following:

  • Threatening, insulting or offensive words
  • Threatened or actual physical intimidation or violence
  • Ongoing harassment
  • Any behaviour which causes offence or upset to the person it is directed to
Note: All incidents must be reported to the Security Control Room (0845 3000970) who will assist and where appropriate contact your Regional Security Manager.
If a customer is unhappy and becomes angry with you:
  • First of all – don’t take it personally. The customer is not mad at you, but may be angry because of the situation that he/she finds himself in and can be frustrated if things are not happening quickly enough for him/her. In other words, if the Bank has failed to meet his/her expectations.
  • Empathise – this means putting yourself in the customers’ shoes – think how you would feel in a similar situation and how you would react.
  • Sympathise – let the customer know that you are sorry for the situation that they find themselves in, but do not try to apportion blame either to the Bank or to the customer. Apologise when appropriate.
  • Be positive – focus on what can be done and let the customer know that you are trying to help him/her. Never say ‘no’ or ‘it can’t be done’ – accentuate the ‘positive’ and let them know what can be done.

If there is an incident where you feel threatened by a customer's behaviour:  
  • Stay calm, the situation could get out of hand if you react in an angry manner yourself or start arguing with the customer. Speak slowly, be gentle but firm, never talk down to the customer, let them know you are trying to help them. 
  • Empathise and let the customer know that you are sorry for the situation that they find themselves in, but do not try to apportion blame.  Apologise where appropriate. 
  • Where appropriate, commence the Customer Complaints process, as it is likely that the customer feels unhappy with the Bank. 
  • If all this fails and you feel threatened keep eye contact with the aggressor at all times. 
  • If the abusive customer refuses to leave, consider phoning the police 
  • Try to manoeuvre yourself into a safe position - identify an escape route and if you feel violence is imminent get away as fast as you can. 
  • A Hold up Alarm should be activated if staff feel that a violent attack is imminent or if an attack has taken/is taking place. 
  • If you are threatened or physically assaulted the police must be contacted. Any case of physical assault must be reported to the Accident Reportline and to the Security Control Room 0845 3000970. 
  • Discuss the situation with your Community Leader and Operations Manager. Branch Managers should then escalate any incidents to their Area Director, who will initiate a process of correspondence with the customer e.g. issue a “notice to close” and consider attendance of a diffuser and engagement of AXA PPP to support staff 
  • A standard notice is available “Treating our Staff with Respect” which can be displayed in the Banking Hall, where you feel appropriate (Communisis Item Ref BAR990 3584), which states the Bank’s position. 
  • If you need to talk to someone outside of Barclays about your feelings, AXA PPP Healthcare, are available to support you. Ring 0800 529229 any time of the day or night. This is also available for your family to use and the issue does not have to be work related. 
The contact details for your Unite Health & Safety Reps are 
  • London - Seamus Lally 07766 360 474
  • South West - Hilary Gambling 07766 360 352      
  • South East & East Anglia - Tony Mitchell 07766 360 473      
  • Central & Eastern - Matt Mellor 07825 906 156      
  • Wales & Midlands - Phil Jones 07766 360 351      
  • Scotland & The North - Mark Campbell 07775 548 892