Dealing With Angry Customers

If you’re a customer service rep (CSR), I’m sure you’ve had the pleasure of dealing with an irate customer. They storm into your place of business or on the phone as angry and miserable as a bear with constipation. In some instances, despite your best efforts, the customer may be very dissatisfied and simply want to complain, scream and vent.

If they barge into your workplace like Satan with a score to settle, Or if they are screaming or yelling, if their face is red, their blood pressure is boiling, and you can see their fangs; try to take them to a place where your other customers cannot hear what’s happening. That situation can create a larger unnecessary disturbance.

Once you have the customer in a private area, let them vent and complain as much as they want, and do not interrupt them. Never, ever interrupt an irate. It’s important to remember sometimes people just want to be heard. They need someone to listen to them. Although it may not always be pleasant, as a CSR that is our job. While they are venting, I always recommend that you imagine they are a loved one or a very special friend. This simple mind shift can help you stay calm in a highly charged situation. Your job is NOT to win an argument with them. Your job is to make them happy and keep them loyal so that you can continue getting paid.

Be professional and empathetic. In other words, put yourself in their shoes. However, do not allow yourself to get drawn into their anger and begin to take their negativity personally. The manner in which to do this is to remain detached from their personality and keep all of your focus on the issue and solution. The more you focus on your angry customer’s personality, the more likely it will be for you to lose your cool. The greater your concentrate on a positive outcome the less likely you are to be distracted by negativity. In some situations, it may be helpful to take notes. This strategy will cause the customer to slow down their angry, fast-paced ranting so that you can catch up with your much slower note taking.

Finally, when it’s your turn to speak, soften your voice and speak in an even, conversational tone. Keeping your voice at a low volume can cause the person to calm down faster, giving you greater control. Once the problem is resolved, it is crucial that you offer a sincere apology. Apologizing demonstrates your deep “understanding and empathy.” A professional apology usually consists of 5 steps:

1. Sincerely say, “I’m sorry.”

2. Sincerely ask for forgiveness.

3. Assure your client that you will take every measure to prevent the problem from occurring again.

4. (If necessary) Ask the client if you can somehow make it up to them.

5. After a few days, send them a note to apologize again or give a follow-up phone call.

Step 4 is an optional step and usually applied only if your blunder was massive. Step 5 is a very valuable tool to build rapport and honorability. Many businesses feel it unnecessary, however; I believe it to be an important extra step toward building momentous human relations.

In a recent customer service seminar, I was asked, “what about if the client is wrong?” In other words, while dealing with a disgruntled customer, you both realize that the mistake or blunder was the fault of the customer from the very beginning. How can we respond in that situation?

I’ve been there many times, and I must repeat what I’ve been saying all along. Regardless of where the responsibility lies, treat them as you would your mother or father, brother or sister, son or daughter. Treat them like family.

As a good CSR, your only response must be to “save their face.” Do not rub their noses in it. You will not score any points by proving your customer wrong or making them feel dim-witted. Instead, go out of your way to make them look good regardless. Saying things such as, “It could happen to anyone.” Or, “I’ve made the same mistake many times,” can be a real rapport builder. Remember, they are your customers, and they are feeding your family.

The words you choose in a situation such as this can destroy or repair a client’s perception of who you are. So choose your words and how you convey them very carefully. That is the focal point of all human relations. This will give you the mark of distinction and your client will remain loyal to you and your company.

Your words can also help you make a deep emotional connection with your customer. Since your customer is the reason you have a job, you’ll want to avoid squabbling or bickering with them. Remember, your job is not to win fights, but to win loyal friends. Our customers might not always be right, but they are always our customers.

I wish you luck and success!