For any business, irate customers are inevitable. No matter how hard you try to provide exceptional service or how efficient your systems and processes are, you will at some point encounter impolite or angry customers.
Your response to these situations can either lead to you creating a better relationship that prompts them to come back to your brand as a loyal customer or severing ties all together. The latter can also lead to customers turning to social media to rant about poor service or leaving a bad review on your site.
Here are 8 actionable steps you can take to better deal with and manage angry customers:
Step 1: Remain calm
An angry customer will be tense and upset, they could even raise their voice and be rude. Responding in a similar manner will simply make the situation worse. Keep a level head, maintain a neutral voice, and try your hardest to ignore rude comments and remarks that the customer is making. If you keep your composure, it’s much more likely that the customer will do so as well and you can begin a more constructive discourse.
Step 2: Assume that the customer has a right to be upset
Nobody makes mistakes on purpose, but in reality, mistakes will happen occasionally. Evaluate the legitimacy of the complaint as you are listening to it. Do not interrupt the customer by giving excuses or being defensive. There are numerous reasons as to why your customer is upset. Your best response is acknowledging the fact that, as customers, they have a right to express their feelings and it’s your job to listen carefully to what they have to say so you can accurately determine the root cause of their anger.
Step 3: Remain focused on your goal
Interacting with angry customers is challenging, but it’s your job to find a resolution to their issue. Fail to do that and the customer will most likely remain angry. Just keep in mind that when a customer is rude or hostile, it’s nothing but a challenge that you have to address and overcome. Your objective is to provide your customer with the value they are seeking. Remember to not take things personally and put your feelings aside, the customers is frustrated due to the quality of the product or service you provide.
Step 4: Reiterate their concern
To make sure that you are actually addressing the correct issue and have understood your customer’s concerns correctly, repeat what they have just said. This will ensure that both of you are on the same page as to what needs to be addressed and how you are going to move forward to resolve the matter. Use a firm but polite tone to establish control and ask the customer to confirm that you have restated the matter accurately.
A side note on this is that you might be dealing with a very impatient customer. If you are and you’re sure that you’ve identified the issue and know how to resolve it, you should skip ahead so as to not slow down the conversation and resolution of their problem too much. This can be a hard balance to strike, but after some time on the job you’ll make these kinds of calls intuitively.
Step 5: Accept accountability
A lot of businesses who are recognized for their customer service follow the saying “the customer is always right.” While this isn’t at all true, they know that customers are certainly right about how they feel.
That said, regardless of whether the customer or the brand is actually objectively responsible for the issue, when it comes to dealing with angry customers, the only thing that matters is whether a business is willing to own up to the responsibility of fixing it. Apologize gracefully — if only because you need to issue an apology that they were unhappy with their experience of your product or service.
Step 6: Ask questions to find a suitable solution
Once you’ve acknowledged that you are indeed willing to address the matter and resolve it, communicate with your customer by learning what you need about the particular situation. Remember, customer experience isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal. You have to approach each issue depending on how it has affected the customer. Showing empathy and offering a satisfying resolution to their concern are your top priorities.
Step 7: Give your customer options
If you want to end your customer’s hostility and anger, you need to give your customer reason to do so. This means your customer has to feel like the matter has been sufficiently resolved. If there are options on how you can best move forward with the issue, provide those to the customer and allow her/him to choose. Even if the outcome isn’t ideal, providing different solutions can significantly increase customer satisfaction.
Show confidence in what you can do for them, even if it’s something as simple as encouraging them to get in touch with you again for further questions or concerns.
Step 8: Follow up whenever possible
Handling angry customers doesn’t end when the phone call or correspondence ends. After some time, it’s best to check in with them to see if the resolution was indeed effective—especially in cases where there’s a risk it might not have been. A follow up email can go a long way in terms of showing your customers that you actually do care about their satisfaction.
Once the matter has been resolved, it’s also beneficial for you to take a quick break to reset. Dealing with angry customers can admittedly be stressful. Don’t let that stress fester inside—take a quick break, clear your head and then come back to delivering exceptional customer service!
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