What to do with an Angry Customer?

Customer service can be nasty business sometimes.  Have you ever received an email from an angry customer?  Most likely it went a little something like this: “You are the worst company I have ever dealt with!”.  Oops!  Now what?

It is very hard to find the right words when your customer is angry and starts to complain about your company but read on for some tips.

First, don’t panic.  Yes, it looks bad and we hate when someone is upset.  Especially today when social media is so prominent and news spreads like fire.  In most cases, when customers complain, they just want you to do your best to fix the issue and move on.  Also, be sure to track any complaints and problems.  These will be useful later when you re-evaluate your policies.  Here are some basic tips to help you deal with an angry client.

  1. Be understanding.  A little empathy can go a long way here.  Acknowledge the way the customer feels and apologize for their frustration.  Just because you empathize doesn’t mean you agree with the client.  You can start out by saying “I understand how frustrating this is for you and I apologize…”.
  2. Don’t get defensive.  Yes, you will want to defend yourself but please refrain from doing it.  It will aggravate your customer more.  This is not about who is right or wrong, it’s about taking a problem, fixing it and making the customer feel valued so they stick with you.
  3. Take the blame.  It doesn’t matter if you’re are right or wrong, as a representative of the company you will need to take the blame. When you take ownership of the blame it reaffirms that the company is trustworthy and reliable.  If the issue is something you can’t handle on your own, be sure to be classy and professional when you pass the customer off to another member of your team.  Something like, “I’m very sorry, this is not a matter I am familiar with.  I am escalating your concern to …”
  4. Make a commitment to the customer that you will have the problem resolved in a specific time frame.  For example, “I have sent your refund request out for approval.  I expect to hear back tomorrow afternoon and will get in touch with you as soon as possible.”
  5. Make an offer.  In cases of unhappy clients, they will generally ask for a refund.  Before the client asks for that refund, make an alternate offer.  If it’s a program, “I’m sorry it didn’t work out can I enroll you into our next program?”.   In the end, your customer wants something of value and if you can give it, they may not ask for a refund.
  6. Go above and beyond the normal, regular way customer complaints are handled.  When the complaint gets resolved successfully, offer up something special to them, like a coupon for 10% off their next purchase as appreciation for their business.
  7. Stick with it! If you make a promise – stick with it until it’s complete.  Don’t let it fall through the cracks.
  8. Follow up with the customer later.  A simple email to make sure everything is working fine and let them know you’re there if they need anything or have other questions.  To be blunt, show them you care.

In the end, you can’t please everyone but you can certainly give it your best shot.  And, from my experience, every customer can be won back.  It’s a matter of paying attention and making them feel like they stand out, they are important and they are valued.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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