No matter how good your business is and how hard you try to keep them all happy, there will be times when your customers get angry. Whether or not their anger is justified, they represent an opportunity rather than a threat. But to realise the opportunity for improvement that they represent, you first need to know how to deal with angry customers.
While your first reaction might be a desire to bury your head in the sand, it’s the last thing you should do. Your job is to transform unhappy customers into happy customers if it’s at all possible.
Dealing With Angry Customers: Why Getting it Right Benefits You
Prevent Negative Publicity
Angry customers are very likely to make their feelings felt in the most public way possible: that damaging review on Google; what they say to their friends, family, and colleagues; those scathing social media posts – it can become a PR nightmare. So, your first concern may be damage control. Calm the customer. Make them less likely to share their fury for decades to come. But if that’s where it ends, you still missed the real opportunity.
Improve The Way You Do Business
The important thing to remember is that most people don’t get angry for no reason at all. So, if your customer is angry, your business must have done something wrong. Finding out what that might be allows you to solve the issue and improve your business.
Create Brand Ambassadors
Taking angry customers seriously and showing them how you aim to address their issues and how you’re changing things so they won’t occur again can benefit your business even more. People like to feel important. They like to feel heard and understood, and they like to feel that their opinions matter.
When you show them that you care about them and their opinions, they can go from being furious to thinking that your business is among the best they’ve ever dealt with. Get this right, and all the emotion that went into yelling down the phone line gets transferred to praising your business to the skies.
Tips for Dealing With Angry Customers
Remember That It’s Not Personal
Angry customers can be terribly intimidating. Your fight or flight response kicks in. Neither of these adrenaline-fuelled responses is going to help the situation. Begin by recognising that the customer isn’t targeting you as a person. Remain calm.
You may not want to hear what’s being said, but you must do more than hearing. You need to listen actively. Don’t allow yourself to be provoked. Try to get to the bottom of the reason why your customer is so angry. But never interrupt. There may be lots of venting going on, but hidden within the fury lies the golden nugget of information that tells you exactly why your customer is angry.
Let Them Talk Themselves Out
The best way to deal with an angry customer is to let them talk. They may have a lot to say. More than half of it may be about how they feel rather than what went wrong, but let them say everything they want to – within limits.
Don’t Tolerate Abuse
On rare occasions, angry customers can be abusive, subjecting you to obscenities, personal insults, and even threats. If they’re behaving in this way, it’s perfectly fair to tell them that though you’re there to help, you won’t tolerate abusive language and will end the call and report it if they don’t exercise moderation. Suggest that they take a break and call you back.
Get to The Root of the Problem
Even with your active listening skills and empathy set to the max, it can be tricky to get to the root of the problem that made your customer so angry. Once they’ve finished letting off steam, convey what you’ve extracted from the conversation to see whether you’ve understood the issue correctly. If they want to add to your summary, see if there are concepts that got lost in the conversation and that have a real bearing on the issue at hand. Keep going until you’re sure you’ve fully grasped the customer’s pain points.
Empathising isn’t the same as agreeing. It merely means that you acknowledge why your customer might feel as they do. “I understand that you’re feeling frustrated” isn’t the same as saying “My company is in the wrong.” It’s an important distinction because sometimes, misunderstandings arise. For example, customers may think they’re getting one thing when they actually asked for another. The customer is not always right, but even when they aren’t, there’s nothing to stop you from saying you understand how they feel.
Refer to Policy
There are times when customers get angry about things that are part of your usual policies. For example, your e-commerce website might offer same-day delivery in certain areas, but not in others. If someone outside the same-day delivery area didn’t notice that the promise doesn’t apply to them, it may be time to gently refer to the policy explaining why it isn’t possible to do things differently.
Use Positive Language
In the moment, choosing positive language is something of an art. For example, your customer might present you with a scenario you’re totally unprepared for and don’t know how to handle. Saying you don’t know what to do isn’t going to help, but saying that you recognise their problem and that you’ll find out what can be done and get back to them does. Just be sure to deliver on that promise!
Sometimes, the things that infuriate customers simply aren’t your business’s fault, but instead of telling them so, you can say that you understand their frustration. And, instead of telling them about an action they ought to take or should already have taken, you can ask them if they’d mind trying a solution you have in mind. To combat negativity, you need oodles of positivity.
Always Thank Your Customer
You may not have wanted a call from an angry customer, but you should still thank them for bringing the matter to your attention. By doing so, they’re giving you a chance to mend things or improve things. At the very least, you could have missed out on knowing how certain things make customers feel. They could just have gone right ahead with attacking your business’s reputation without allowing you an opportunity to correct, address or understand their problem.
Tell Them What You’ll Do Next
It may be possible to resolve your customer’s issue right away. If you can, do so. If you can’t, or if you feel that other people in your organisation should be aware of their issue and prevent it from recurring, tell them about your next steps. “I’ll escalate this to our production team and give you feedback,” is an example.
Don’t Keep It to Yourself
If your angry customer raises a complaint that might indicate a need to make changes, the relevant people should know about it. Even when they seem “wrong” there will be reasons that underlie the misunderstanding. Using our same-day-delivery example, it may be necessary to work harder to clarify that this commitment doesn’t apply to all the regions in which your customers may live.
Find Out What you Can Do to Make Things Right
There are two stakeholders here: your customers, and the business you’re representing. Some businesses are willing to incur additional costs in order to satisfy customers. It may not be up to you to decide whether or not they will. And, it doesn’t help your customer if you provide a solution that doesn’t really address their problem.
Since you already have your customer on the line, you can clarify what they expect you to do. You should know what your decision-making powers are and be ready to escalate the matter if possible solutions seem to exceed them. Finally, if it looks like something that need not occur again if a few tweaks are made, the relevant people need to know about it.
Keep your Promises
Always remember to do whatever you commit to and keep your customers informed. Broken promises will turn angry customers into infuriated customers. Use technology to help you remember what needs to be done, when, and by whom. Follow up if necessary.
Dealing With Angry Customers: The Skills You’ll Need
Dealing with angry customers isn’t easy and it requires scarce skills. The ability to listen actively and remain calm no matter what isn’t something just anyone can do. Making angry people feel like you’re there to help and empathising with their feelings takes tact and a deep understanding of human nature. Providing feedback to businesses about why their customers aren’t happy can be tough too – even though it’s information they need and can use to their benefit.
Tact, patience, and great communication skills are a powerful combination that’s essential for dealing with angry customers. And, if you’re already busy, it can be really hard to put them to work. Do you have the dedicated people you need to deal with your customers and switch gears between providing advice, recommending products, and handling the occasional unexpected blast of white-hot fury?
Perhaps it’s time to bring in the experts: a company that is completely focused on communicating on behalf of your business. You’d expect professionalism, feedback that may even be better than anything you could get from your in-house operatives, and absolute dedication to representing your brand as you’d want it to be represented. And, of course, you’d want the best for your customers – whether they’re angry, happy, or just curious about what you do and how you do it. With RSVP, you’d get all that and more with our outsourced inbound customer service and support.
Contact us today to find out how we’re helping top-flight businesses realise their customer service goals and, more importantly, how we’d work with you. We deliver excellence in communication. Discover the difference today.