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Tough Customers Don't let "service with a smile" leave your employees with frowns.

By Chris Penttila

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Robert Girau had had about enough. A corporate manager forAtlanta-based fast-food chain Wing Zone, he'd just spent 30minutes on the phone with an irate customer who hadn't receivedher order. "She said I was a liar," Girau says. She alsothreatened him. But as an employee, Girau knew he had to keep hiscool and try to solve the problem. "It was frustrating,"he says. "No matter what the customer is saying, you [have to]try not to take it personally."

A lot of employees find themselves in Girau's shoes. Afterall, every company has customers who can be overly demanding,angry, even abusive. But, as the business mantra goes, the customeris always right. For employees on the receiving end of a customerinteraction gone wrong, there's incredible pressure to simplygrin and bear it. Service with a smile is always good business.

Or is it? Alicia Grandey, an assistant professor of industrialand organizational psychology at Penn State University inUniversity Park, studies the effects of "emotionallabor," what employees face when they must manage theiremotions on the job. She says employers need to be aware of howstressful customer interactions are affecting the morale and healthof their employees.

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