Customer Anger Management, Do's and Don'ts
Angry customers. Aggressive, hysterical, unreasonable, angry customers. Everyone with experience in customer service knows that dealing with these people is an inherent part of the job, yet so few know how to respond in the right way! What are the best practices to deal with angry customers? We've asked the experts.
Take the challenge
First thing you should always take into account is the fact that an angry customer is an opportunity to create a long-term happy customer. An angry customer is there, waiting for you to guide him to happiness. You might not feel it that way, but an angry customer in your face is better than an angry customer that chooses not to engage anymore at all. The impact that a sympathic service contact can make on a customer's attitude is unmeasurable.
Don't take it personally
In order to find the best solution for the situation you will have to enter into the right mindset. You should be able to set aside your feelings, and understand this customer is not personally atacking you, but the company you represent. It is up to you to solve this problem and it will require 100% of your focus. If the customer gets personal, don’t react the same way. Remain calm and try to bring the conversation out of the emotional realm.
Listen & Acknowledge
After having approached the situation from the right angle, you’ll need to put your listening skills to the test: First, let the customer take you through the problem, ask him exactly what happened and try to reach deeper layers of his concerns till the root of the problem. Sometimes, the simple fact of being there for your customer and listening to his problem already solves 50% of the problem itself, so don’t underestimate listening time. When he finishes try to summarize the problem in your own words, this communicated that you were truly listening.
Avoid relativizing the problem
Never try to convince the customer that his problems are nothing to get angry about. He should feel that you are being understanding and by his side. Always transmit to the customer that you understand why he is angry. Never tell an angry customer to calm down - this will only trigger even more anger in midst of denial which, once again will not help you fix the problem.
When the problem seems not a problem at all and the customer is simply overreacting to a simple issue the tendency will be to show him how minor his concern really is. Never do so, not only you are diminishing your customer while you are also showing him that you don’t care about his problems.
Don't be too proud to apologise
When it’s obvious and relevant that there is a failure from your side (from the company you work for or any third-party hired members which were involved in the service delivered) you should be able to say sorry for what happened to your customer - many customers will start calming down at this stage because what they were really looking for was an apology for a bad experience.
Provide immediate solutions
Immediately after apologising you should be able to provide your customer with a solution to his problem or frustration. It always works best when the contact person is the one taking ownership of the problem. Offer him a refund, a discount, free voucher or any benefit he would feel valuable for. Be meaningful with the customer’s problem when offering an appropriate solution.
If you can’t provide a solution to the core problem in that instant, offer him something while he waits for another response. Also assure that someone will deal with that problem and provide an answer to the customer as quick as possible.
Ask for feedback
Don't assume that you fixed the problem. You’ll only be certain that the customer is satisfied with the solution you offered if he tells you so. So don’t let your customer leave without asking for feedback, ask directly: "Does this solve your issue?"
Dealing with several types of customers with infinite number of complaints or issues may be a difficult task. However, there’s an important way that you should always embody in order to help you to react in any situation, we’re talking about your conversational attitude. The attitude you are portraying to customer will not only affect the way he may react - whether calming down or getting even more agitated. Remember to show the customer that you are the one in charge of fixing the problem and, even though you are there to help, you have your company's’ values and reputation behind you.
... but don't be cold
On the other hand, if you are too strict and don’t show empathy for the customer’s problem you might even lose the customer. The best tip is to find your own role in this conversation and adjust your attitude along it. Always remain calm, but be understanding.
Clear up your mind
These situations might be extremely stressful and even if the customer left happy you should give yourself a couple of minutes to clear the air and get yourself back together to prevent taking the feeling of the hostile customer to the next conversation.
Do the appropriate follow-up on this customer. Check if his problem was totally solved (if you handled it to someone else) and try to assess if the customer still sticks with you. Give him a call or text him after some time and be patient. By doing so you are not only making sure this customer issue was solved but you’re also providing extra care and attention, potentially turning your angry customer into a brand advocate.