How to Deal with Angry Customers Face to Face?
“The service you promised doesn’t work! I want my money back, and I want it right now! And I’m telling everybody I know how you all really conduct your business!”
“The information you sent me is wrong! Can’t you guys just listen or read? What’s going on in your head? What’s the matter with you people?”
“Customers should be treated like kings! If it weren’t for us, you would run out of business! Oh, wait! Let me post this on social media!”
Sounds familiar? Angry, unhappy, and rude customers can drain you emotionally and sap the energy out of you. It takes just one angry customer to ruin your whole day.
There are two kinds of customers—the kind ones, and the difficult ones. By difficult, we mean rude and downright angry. Customers get angry for a variety of reasons. Some reasons are justified, whereas some not. But if you run a business, then you are likely to encounter rude or angry individuals at some point or other, especially if you are into the service industry. How you deal with such an angry customer can make the difference between a satisfied customer and one who vows never to conduct business with you again.
Here are some tips for dealing with difficult customers and diffusing a tense situation:
1. Remain calm
When a customer starts yelling or being rude, it helps to be calm. There is nothing to be gained by responding in kind. In fact, that will worsen the situation and make it difficult to handle the angry customer. It is important to restrain yourself and remain calm in such situations.
2. Remember—It’s Not Personal
The customer is not angry at you, but angry at the situation. You are not the target. It’s never OK to be rude or hang up on your customer. That’s negative for your morale as well as for your business. There is no time for your personal feelings. You can get details for How to Exceed Customers’ Expectations.
3. Apologize—And Do It Gracefully
Acknowledge your customer’s feelings. Apologize sincerely, immediately, and gracefully. Then follow up with action. Just saying “I’m sorry” and not acting on the solution won’t work. Whether the customer’s complaint is genuine or not is not really relevant. If you want them to stay a customer, you need to express your apology. A simple “I’m sorry you are not happy with our service. Let’s see what we can do to make things right” will do wonders. Dealing with difficult customers is not rocket science if you know how to diffuse a situation.
4. Actively Listen to the Problem
Use your best listening skills. The first thing an angry customer wants is someone to vent their feelings. They need someone to listen. Your job at that point should be to listen carefully. Listening patiently can make a customer feel that they are acknowledged. Hear them out. Listen to what they got to say.
When they are done talking, ask any questions to further clarify their grievance. Summarize what they have just said. Keep eye contact—body language can be very important in these situations. Show that you are closely paying attention to their problem. Stand or sit up straight. Uncross your arms.
After the customer is done telling their problem, express sympathy for their customer experience. Let them know you understand their frustrations. Respect and understanding go a long way toward making things right.
6. Find a Solution
Once you have apologized and acknowledged your customer’s grievance, take time to understand why the customer is unhappy. Once you have ascertained the problem, it is time to offer a solution. Ask them what they feel should be done or put forward your own fair and logical solution. In most cases, that’s all the customer is looking for—they are usually looking for validation and acknowledgment. Reassure them you’ll follow through and take ownership—and actually, do it.
7. Be Sincere
in your apology and attitude. Be very willing to help, because if the customer senses an insincere apology, that will make things only worse. Most irate customers want empathy as much as they want a solution to the problem encountered. It’s frustrating to tell your grievance to someone who obviously doesn’t care and doesn’t want to help.
8. Take Some Time Out
Taking a break helps in remaining calm and composed. After the customer is on their way and the situation is diffused, it’s helpful for you to take a few minutes of “me” time. Handling an angry customer is often a stressful experience—even if you have handled the situation in the most professional way possible. Take a walk and treat yourself to your favorite ice cream or coffee. Talk to someone who matters.
The secret to handling unhappy and irate customers is to approach them as calmly as possible, no matter the reaction you get from customers. Coach your customer service executives to focus on conveying an apt solution and expressing that they are on the customer’s side. Your customers should get this message clearly—that you care and that you want to help.
Coach your customer service executives to convey exactly this. Remind yourself and the team that it’s not personal. By being empathetic and lending an ear, you create happy customers and both of you end up having a good business experience.
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What according to you was the toughest situation while handling your customer? Do let us know in the comment section.