With summer around the corner and rising temperatures approaching, here are some tips on how to deal with angry customers and heated tempers in the workplace.
In every business, mistakes happen and customers get angry.
When someone is screaming in your face, you might be saying “good riddence and get lost” under your breath, but don’t forget that when they walk out the door, how many people they are going to tell about their experience with you. Anywhere from 9 to 20+ and it grows from there. If they use social media, add several zeros to those numbers.
Don’t risk your untarnished reputation because you failed to properly handle their problem. Take care of the situation in the right way, build their trust once again, and enjoy their continued repeat business and referrals.
Because every person is different, nothing is certain 100% of the time. However, these tips will help you increase your chances to keep your customer. He/she will walk away feeling that you were honest and believe that you did everything you could to help. How great is that?!
1. Don’t Take it Personally
Customers are angry at a situation, not you. Until you hear them out, you will have no idea why they are frustrated.
2. Let Them Vent
Their perception is their reality. Let them tell their ENTIRE story without interruption. Typically an angry person will “talk themselves out” within a short amount of time. If you interrupt, it is like fuel to a fire. It maybe very hard, but don’t say anything until he/she is done talking. Take notes if needed and listen to what is being said, OR not said.
If they are using abusive language: Here’s what you do . . .
Talk slowly and lower your voice. Say, “I can handle your problem. I am not able to handle your abusive language.”
3. Ask for Clarification if You Don’t Understand
Better to ask what might seem like a dumb question than to start off on the wrong path to solve the problem. If you begin by answering a question that was not asked, the anger will escalate.
4. Validate Your Customer
Empathize and sympathize as much as possible. Tell the customer you are sorry they are so frustrated. THIS IS NOT THE SAME as admitting fault or accepting blame.
It reinforces that you want to help and interested in their situation, not the company’s bottom line.
This is where the rapport building starts!
5. Repeat Back What You Heard Him/Her Say
Paraphrase back what you heard. Two reasons . . . 1) it shows that you were listening intently and 2) it gives you an opportunity to clear up any details you may have missed before you respond. Remember to talk slowly and lower your voice. Seriously, this technique works well.
6. You Don’t Have to Have All the Answers
It’s OK to say “I don’t know.” One of the worst things you can do is not respond truthfully. Be honest and tell the customer you will find out and call him/her back. THEN DO IT!
If you don’t have a resolution at the agreed upon “return call” time, still make the call. If for some reason you can’t, get someone else to make the call for you. State that you have not forgotten about them and that you are still researching.
The resolution may still be pending, but you just made great headway. The customer feels appreciated that you kept your promise to call back at the time you said you would, even if you didn’t have any answers. Great anger reducer and trust builder!
Note: Not getting back to the customer at the time you committed will feed additional anger. Don’t put yourself in that position, it’s completely avoidable.
7. Share What You Have in Common
Do you have something in common? Tell him/her a short story that is similar to what happened to you. This builds camaraderie between you and him/her.
8. Tell Your Customer What You Can Do for Him/Her
If you correct the problem exactly the way your customer requests, HALLELEUJAH!
If not, have another solution ready that FITS the problem. Don’t offer a fishing pole for a defective lawn mower. Perhaps a discount or a replacement that is better than what they originally purchased? Exceed their expectations on this one.
9. You May Have Limitations on What You Can Do
If it’s simply not possible to do what the customer wants or it’s too costly, explain that honestly, but come up with a mutual resolution. Avoid bantering back and forth.
10. Thank Your Customer!
If their issue is something that is going to better meet the needs of your customers, you certainly want to know that.
Thank your customer for bringing the situation to your attention which in turn will now provide better service/product to your other customers. They will appreciate that their problem and your solution is the catalyst for a positive change in your company. You can also be pro-active about thanking your customers by sending a greeting card customized for your business.
Bottom Line . . .
Take special care of your angry customers, they are like gold.
You have just been given a second chance
because they cared enough to bring the problem to your attention.
When a problem is fixed properly and stays fixed,
customer loyalty actually increases!