Diffusing the Angry Customer
Despite your best efforts, customers sometimes become angry with your business. Dealing with angry customers is not easy since you are thrown into an emotionally-charged situation without any choice or foresight.
The way you handle a precarious situation will make all the difference in whether you lose a good customer or maintain a positive relationship. Take these steps for diffusing - and even pleasing - an angry customer.
Allow Venting Time
Imagine your customer approaches you with steam coming out of their ears, and you are unsure how to stop them. Want to know the secret? Do not try to stop them at all. Instead, allow them to let all that steam out before you even begin to try to resolve the situation. While your customer is venting, try these techniques:
Acknowledge their right to be angry.
Listen carefully to pinpoint the underlying issue beneath the anger.
Do not take their anger personally, even though it is directed at you at that moment.
Be patient and give them time to let all of their emotion out.
Do not respond emotionally to anger; remain calm and use a low voice.
Once the customer has released their emotion and calmed down, it is time to take the situation into your own hands.
Apologize if Necessary
If your customer is angry with a defective product or a mistake your company made, do not be afraid to apologize for the situation. A simple, "I am terribly sorry for the frustration you have experienced with this incident, and I will try to make it right" will go a long way in turning an angry customer to a satisfied one once again.
Record the Details of the Complaint
Ask your customer if you can record the details of the problem to share with the rest of the staff at a later time. This ensures you get the complaint right the first time while also showing the customer that you care enough about the situation to ensure it never happens again.
Own the Problem
Angry customers get even more frustrated if they think you are trying to pass the buck. Tell your customer you will make sure the issue is resolved, even if you have to go to other employees or management to do so. Record your customer's name and phone number and promise a callback with a response if you cannot solve the problem immediately. Give the customer your name and number so they can contact you if they have any questions. This makes a customer feel that they are back in control of the situation and that they now have recourse for their concern.
Go Above and Beyond
When appropriate, go above and beyond simply resolving the problem to make up for your customer's inconvenience and frustration. Provide a product at a reduced price or offer a coupon for future purchases. Follow-up with a phone call or postcard a few weeks later to ensure your customer was satisfied with the resolution. These small steps go a long way in transforming an angry customer to a satisfied one once again.
- Meredith Estep