How To Manage Angry Customers Effectively
In any line of business there usually comes a point where one has to deal with an unsatisfied and angry customer. When these situations occur it is important to handle it with wisdom and acumen. This is necessary because a situation not handled properly could result in the business losing that client or worse still, in physical confrontations, it could escalate and become violent.
What are the steps one can take when faced with a dissatisfied angry customer? In the first place, understanding why the customer is angry is crucial to resolving the issue. In exception of mentally unstable individuals, most people before expressing anger and rage have a valid reason even if it is only in their point of view. With this in mind, let us first go through 3 general reasons why a customer may be upset
Possible reasons a customer may be offended.
- Poor service or defective goods: In the case of physical services and even services that do not require physical interaction, Undoubtedly one of the major reasons a customer gets provoked is if the service promised is not provided in the way the customer expects, or if the goods are not in good condition. This is usually the first reason a customer is offended.
- Conflict with an employee: Furthermore, another reason the customer may be offended is situations where a misunderstanding occurs. In this scenario, the customer perceives that he is being insulted or responded to in an inappropriate way. This may enrage a client.
- Personal challenge: While this seems extremely unfair, a customer could become upset just because they are going through difficult times. This makes them exceptionally irritable. Consequently, an individual already having a bad day, or week or maybe has had a difficult experience with other organizations may take out the frustration on you.
An Angry Customer- What to do.
As has been noted, understanding the reasons why your customer may be upset is the first point. However, it goes beyond that since regardless of the reason, the customer has to be pacified. There is a popular saying that ‘the customer is always right’. Although this may not always be the case, the reasoning behind it is the goal to have satisfied customers. Consequently, it is expected that you always view a situation from the customers perspective.
With this in mind, here are some tips with which we can handle and defuse a difficult and awkward situation with an angry customer.
- Be calm: Firstly it is crucial to remain unruffled. Of course, when we are being yelled at or talked to in a condescending way, our instinct is to respond likewise. Nevertheless, when dealing with an infuriated customer, it is important to suppress that urge. Responding with agitation will only further incense your customer, escalating an already tricky situation. Recognise that the customer is expressing his frustration not with you as an individual but with the product, or service.
- Be patient: Allow an angry customer to vent their frustration without interrupting. Give them all the time they need to explain the situation and lay their complaints. While they express their anger and frustration it is important not to cut in with explanations or defence. It is usually a good idea to allow them to exhaust their all they plan to say.
- Be attentive: Furthermore, while they are speaking,, you should pay attention to them. Do not be let them get the impression that you are distracted. Although it may be obvious that their complaint is trivial and pointless, you must let them feel heard. Most aggrieved customers just really want someone to hear them out. Hence listening to them is the first step in soothing their anger.
- Be supportive: Acknowledge the customers’ complaint as valid and repeat to them the summary of their grievance. It is should be recognised that just as important as it is to be heard, it is equally important to be understood. An enraged customer wants to feel that you indeed heard them and agree at least in part to their dissatisfaction.
- Be apologetic. At this point, the client should be calm enough to give you the opportunity to speak uninterrupted. However, if the customer keeps interrupting, begin the process over again and allow him or her to speak. The next step would be to accept the responsibility on behalf of your organisation and apologize. Regardless of who is to blame or how valid the claim of the customer is. Obviously, for whatever reason, the customer is upset, therefore, an apology is in order. Let your apology be sincere and not loaded with sarcasm. A sincere apology is always easy to identify and usually defuses the situation.
- Be conciliatory: Afterwards, offer a solution or an alternative. Following your apology, there should be an action that addresses the customers grievance. Such actions though should be standard procedure and according to company policies. However, If the source of offence is a confrontation with staff personnel, then apologize on behalf of the employee and if necessary explain to the client the actions that may be taken to prevent such occurrence in future. Contrarily, if it has to do with the product or service, depending on your organisation’s policy, offer a replacement, refund, discount on next purchase or any other appropriate response.
- Be cordial: Finally, you should get customer feedback. Ask your customer if they feel the issue has been adequately resolved. Ask if you can provide further assistance. It is important to ensure that the customer feels better after your intervention and if possible follow upon the client by asking for contact information or providing yours.
Important points to note
- Recognise that each individual will respond differently. While it may be easier to calm some people, for others it may be more exacting and challenging.
- In case of personal conflict with a staff, a different staff member should be the one who addresses the customer until he/ she is sufficiently calm. Subsequently, the offending staff may come to apologize if necessary. Most times however it’s better to let the customer leave without further contact with the staff member he/she is offended with.
- It is necessary to consider the safety of yourself, other staff and customers. If an angry customer is becoming increasingly aggressive and violent, tougher intervention such as calling in security guards may be necessary. While we always strive not to lose a customer,. It is important to avoid a situation that may lead to harassment or damage to properties.
- While offering a solution, do not make promises you or your organisation will be unable to fulfil as this will only serve to further enrage the customer when you default. When unsure ask the customer to give you time to consult with those in authority as to what can be done.
- After an encounter with an angry customer, take a few minutes to pull yourself together. Depending on the heat of the situation you may feel shaken up. If so take a few minutes after the customer leaves to calm yourself and examine the situation. Documenting it can help you respond better if there is a next time.
Conclusively, dealing with an angry customer is a situation we all hope to avoid. However, when this happens we do not have to lose the customer. We can take charge of the situation and help everyone to leave satisfied. Good person relation skills is crucial to providing adequate customer satisfaction. For this reason, as employees or entrepreneurs, this is what we should aim for.