10 Proven Ways for Dealing With Angry Customers
By Myron Curry
One of the most difficult situations an employee will encounter is an angry customer. The human emotional response can and often tries to kick in resulting in an escalation of the customer’s ire coupled with the employee becoming enraged as well.
This is a no win scenario for both parties involved with devastating repercussions including loss of a customer, potential new business and possible quitting or termination of the employee.
The main goal of employee training to handle angry customers is to defuse or assuage their anger. Once the customer is in a calmer frame of mind, the issue causing the problem can be quickly and easily resolved. The following are 10 of the top employee training tips for dealing with angry customers:
- Remember, the customer does have the right to be angry – take the path of least resistance. An employee’s first response is to defend their place of work rather and thus creates more friction with the customer. Instead, listen to their issue(s) with the thought that whatever has happened, they do have the right to be upset. The customer had certain expectations which were not met and this has caused their irate response. Place yourself in their shoes, would this upset you as well?
- Remove the “E” word from your mind – As an employee being vented upon; you must remove your emotions from the situation. If you respond with emotions, you will only escalate their anger. The customer is not angry at you and even if they are personally attacking you, you must remain calm and free of emotions. If they are verbally attacking you, they are doing so to seek a desired response that you understand and acknowledge their distress. Do so by calmly and quietly recognizing their mood and reassure them you are there to help them and solve their problems.
- Patience is a virtue – Be a good listener and let the customer get all their frustration and anger out. It will come rolling in like waves of emotion and you need to be attentive, do not interrupt and let your own compassion flow out to them. Explain your understanding and empathy towards their plight once it is your turn to speak.
- Control Your Voice and Control the encounter – The softer and steady you speak, the calmer the customer will become. Not at first and maybe not right away but if you stick with the soft, steady tone of voice you will begin to soothe the customer. You cannot and should not try to shout at or louder than the customer. Wait to speak when the customer has paused after a rant and seize the opportunity to influence their mood with your voice.
- Restate and Reiterate – Always repeat back to the customer what they are upset about and then restate it in the soft and steady tone of voice. This lets the customer know that you have a firm grasp on the problem. Ask the customer if you have correctly restated the situation and what their priorities are concerning the resolution.
- Take Control of the Problem – Regardless of whose fault or what happened let the customer know that you will handle the problem for them, personally. You will take care of them and the issue yourself. Trying to pawn it off on another employee will only further the customer’s rage and bring you back to “square one” with them. You will have effectively ruined any good you accomplished previously. It is imperative to take charge and show the customer you can and will help them and resolve the issue.
- Place the Customer’s Emotions first – Yes, it is imperative that you handle the problem causing their stress but first you must calm them and defuse their emotions. You need to make sure the customer has calmed down before you tend to the issue causing their outburst. Although it might seem that resolving the problem will resolve their tirade, there could be mitigating circumstances adding to their stress level and it is crucial you acknowledge their concerns before tending to the resolution of their problem.
- Root Cause: Dig deep and wide – Finding the answer to the customer’s problem is not enough. You need to get to the root or basal cause of the concern in order to resolve all potential issues so as to avoid any duplication of the problem. Then explain to the customer how you plan to resolve their issue and prevent any future recurrences.
- Fix It - Remedy the customer’s problem and detail what happened and why it happened. Explain that there is no excuse for the occurrence and apologize for the mishap and then explain in detail the steps taken to repair their problem.
- Personally Contact the Customer – After the customer has left the establishment, send a card or letter immediately. It should arrive to them within a few days and this will again acknowledge your personal commitment to their satisfaction. At the 30 day interval, a quick phone call to the customer to verify their continued contentment will show your attention to their needs.
Myron Curry is the President of Business Training Media, a leading provider of corporate training programs for employee development. For more management ideas, strategies and tips, subscribe to Myron’s free Online Management Tips eNewsletter today.