Starting your day with an angry and enraged customer is never a pleasant feeling.
But at some point, you have to learn how to handle angry customers. However, understanding the reason behind their anger and showing a little compassion is often the key to diffusing the situation.
Usually, the customer is angry because they feel their problem has not been solved or they are not being heard. So, how to handle angry customers? How can you handle the situation without letting it harm your business?
Let’s learn why these customers are important for business in the first place and how you can calm them down.
Why are Angry Customers Important?
Think of an angry customer as a disguised opportunity. Dealing well with an angry customer is a great way to turn an unfavorable situation into a favorable one. All that matters is how you react to the situation.
The perception customers take of your business once they step out serves as viral marketing. So instead of despising or dreading angry customers, take it as an opportunity to grow and build your relationship with the customer.
Here it's important to know that if your product is good, it is marketed right, and there are no major issues with the brand.
Only one out of twenty-five customers may even think of launching a complaint. So dealing with angry customers won’t become a norm for your business.
If not dealt with the right way, angry customers can pose severe risks to the future of your business. You will not only lose them, but it could also affect your company’s reputation.
So it's all about how to handle angry customers. If you lose one customer, it could lead to a domino effect and make you lose hundreds of customers and potential revenue.
Angry customers often give you valuable insights about your business. Where do you need to improve? What processes are slow and require more effort?
An angry customer could also be an opportunity to make a sale. For instance, if a customer is complaining about the product they purchased from you, offer them a discount on a new and improved version of that product.
In some cases, an angry customer could also be a source of valuable feedback. If you're constantly getting complaints about the same issue, it might be time to reevaluate your product or service.
However, of course, it's not an easy feat. So here we are with the top ten powerful tactics on how to handle angry customers.
How to Handle Angry Customers: Top Ten Tactics
Photo by Marília Castelli on Unsplash
The first chapter of customer service clearly states, “The customer is king!”. No matter right or wrong, they are justified in their argument, and your job is to ensure that they stay happy no matter what.
However, since customer expectations are always at their highest point, it's often hard to meet them and keep them satisfied. This, coupled with other challenges like product design and supply and demand balance, makes it mandatory for the customer service reps to stay on their toes at all times.
They need specialized training and skills and often must take immediate action to tackle the situation before it gets out of hand. Here are 10 tips for handling angry customers.
1. Listen to Your Customers
One of the key traits of a salesperson or customer service representative is to stay alert and active while dealing with customers.
Of course, you must actively listen to every word they say. Listening closely without immediately cutting them off and responding can help resolve half the issue.
Here’s what happens when you listen to the customer:
First, you understand the magnitude of the problem.
You focus on the words, not the anger behind them.
The customer feels the management cares and feels relaxed when sharing their concern.
Listening to everything the customer says (including the initial angry outburst) gives you time to assess the situation and provides an empathetic feel to the conversation. Make sure to listen to solve the concerns, not just reply to them.
Once they finish, ask questions but never cut them off during their rant. One strategy is to paraphrase the complaint to them so that you completely understand and comprehend the issue at hand.
Instead of responding with a few cliche statements, make yourself adept in the art of reflective listening. Listen carefully to the customer. Check their body language, read through the lines, and analyze the situation before you respond.
2. Apologize, Apologize, Apologize!
An effective strategy to bring down the heat is to admit your mistake and apologize instantly. First, however, make sure you mean it.
Instead of giving a generic apology statement, make it relevant to their concern so they know you listened and understand the problem. Apologizing to angry customers often goes a long way in developing their trust and keeping them loyal to your brand over the years.
Make sure to cite the complaint in your apology and propose a solution. However, do not drag the apology. Instead, just make a statement and move on to resolve the issue.
Understanding, showing compassion, and often relating to the problem help save your relationship with the angry customer.
Note that empathy doesn’t mean that you agree with the customer; it just shows you understand their anger and can view the situation from their level to offer a better solution.
It also helps the sales rep to understand how the situation makes the customer feel and their reaction. After that, they can connect with the customer on a personal level.
4. Stay Calm and Composed
No matter how angry the customer and how frustrated that makes you, remain calm. Although it is pretty natural to try and match your tone with the person you are conversing with, avoid it at all costs with your customer.
It will only escalate the situation if you show that you're frazzled or on the verge of losing your temper. Plus, it'll be harder for you to find a resolution if you're not thinking clearly. If the customer is shouting, try to lower your voice and speak slowly and evenly.
Hopefully, it will help diffuse the anger, and the customer will copy your lead. If you're dealing with an irate customer in person, try to keep your body language relaxed.
Avoid crossing your arms or tapping your foot impatiently. Instead, lean forward slightly and maintain eye contact to show that you're engaged in the conversation.
Retorting or yelling back will only worsen matters for you. Instead, take a deep breath, give yourself a moment to think, and answer the customer. But always stay composed and keep your tone neutral.
Again, it helps to rehearse the conversation before responding or step out to neutralize the situation for a minute or so. However, never respond harshly.
Maintain a stable composure. Avoid the urge to retort and take things personally.
Keep your tone stable and confident; never threaten the customer
Never indulge in emotions or get drawn into the argument.
Take deep breaths and stay focused.
5. Give the Customers a Run-through
When dealing with a problematic customer, what helps is to give them a complete run-through of the process by which you're going to help them. But, of course, that comes after they have vented and are willing to listen.
This strategy also gives you time to think through your words to tackle the situation better. Then, show them your screen, the steps you will take to troubleshoot, and explain.
Furthermore, you can also ring up a colleague to ask them to come and affirm your proposal. That will build customer trust in you and your brand too.
6. Address the Customer by their Name
Addressing the customer by their name does two things for you:
Puts a face to the name
Adds a personalized touch to the conversation.
Using the name gives a sense of reality to the situation. The customer, too, feels the management respects their concern and is willing to listen. However, address them by their name sparingly. Too much use of the name can make it uncomfortable.
7. Create an Environment of Trust
Trust goes a long way in customer service. Whenever there’s an angry customer, their trust has likely been damaged. So it is very important to regain their trust in your brand.
First, you must listen to your customers and show genuine concern when addressing them.
Ensure you have all the information about the customers’ orders and some of their backgrounds when responding. That will keep the conversation more meaningful and directed.
To maintain trust, ensure to remain honest and give them an overview of the situation so they understand better.
8. Know Their Anger is Not Personal
One thing that helps in the situation is remembering that their anger is not personally directed towards you. They don’t hold anything against you as a person - it's the product or service they got that they are mad at.
When you understand that the customer is not angry at you, but at what you represent, it becomes easier to keep your emotions in check. Instead of feeling defensive, you'd likely feel more compassionate.
After all, it’s not you they are mad at - it’s the product that didn’t meet their expectations.
This thought will help make your verbal as well as physical response better. Keep emotions out and respond professionally, making the situation comfortable for the customer.
Taking the words personally also demoralizes you and affects your physical and mental abilities at work.
9. Say What they Want to Hear
You must always use carefully selected words when addressing a distraught customer. Any negative connotations or implications can worsen matters and further aggravate the customer.
When people are angry, they need to be heard, they want reassurance, and they need validation that they have a genuine concern. So give them what they need to hear, i.e., positive words and language that validates their concern.
Terms like ‘actually’ or ‘what we mean…’ can make it worse and bring out further aggression from the customer.
10. Resolve the Problem
Think before you respond. That includes thinking about all the possible solutions and options for the customer.
You can think of something to do immediately or, if not, tell them honestly about the actual timeline for the issue resolution.
Give them a ground run on how you plan to deal with the matter, so they know everything you will do to help them. Make sure to keep your promises realistic, as overpromising at this point can further mar your relationship.
Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash
When you have an angry customer in front, it may seem challenging to deal with them without losing your cool. Likewise, learning how to handle angry customers is challenging. But with some preparation, you can turn this challenge into an opportunity for your business.
Let them vent out, stay patient and provide them a safe place to voice their concerns. Then empathize and offer professional solutions to help them through.