How to Deal with Angry Customers
There’s no business that doesn’t need customers and not just any kind of customers, they need loyal customers. Since human beings as a whole are quite volatile, customers are not going to be easy-going all the time. That’s said, here are a few things to note.
- You can't please everyone even if you try. Likewise, in business, there will be customers who get angry rightfully and unnecessarily
- Remaining calm is a tried and tested way to defuse the situation. It's never advisable to 'fight fire with fire'
- The customer is actually not always right, but they don’t constantly need to know that. Studies have shown that 50% of customers spread the ‘bad word’ and a whopping 32% never return.
- If there’s one thing all business owners should keep in mind, it's that bad experiences resonate more with customers more than good experiences. So, you HAVE to know how to handle angry customers.
Based on that information, to actually retain customers you need to know how to deal with their excesses. Going in, it's vital to know that this won’t be easy, but it's doable if you know how to handle it from the root.
Why Customers Get Angry
It's transferred aggression
Life is hard. Let’s start with that, people face problems at home, at work, on the street on the subway and even in their minds. It's not the ideal way to let off steam but the truth of the matter is that customer service reps are easy targets. It could simply be a wrong action at the wrong time type of situation.
All it takes is one sly look, a spill of coffee, or the wrong remark to bring on World War III. Look at it from the viewpoint that many people out there don’t have any form of release. So, they take it out on anyone they feel is in no position to oppose them.
To deal with a situation, first of all, don’t take it personally. Remember that this person does not know you, so this is not a personal attack on your character. Also, you don’t know what they are dealing with, so try not to pile on. Even if patience is not your virtue, this is the time to dig deep and draw from wells of patience you never thought you had.
Take it a step further by empathizing, this will speedily defuse the situation since it appears that you’re on your side. Don't stop there, equally follow up or adjust accordingly to ensure that their needs are met.
Once you lose time, best believe that there’s definitely no getting it back. Chances are, if a customer feels like you’re wasting their time, they will lash out. It's not simply because they’re peeved by the whole situation, but it's pretty much a betrayal of their trust in you. You see, customers don’t only trust you to meet their needs, they also trust you to value their time and efforts.
The thing is, as timely as most people aim to be, unforeseen circumstances can get in the way. So, on a bad day, it may be hard to be timely every single time. If this happens, and you’re left to deal with an infuriated customer, you need to handle it right.
This is not the time to look for ways to justify the loss of time, or to get defensive. Be patient, empathize, and apologize. As you may have guessed, it does not end there. You further need to look for different ways to optimize your processes and operations. Look for new and clearer ways to communicate with your customers, because that will go a long way to save time.
To get this done right, you have to figure out exactly what the barriers to communication are. Troubleshoot all your processes and you’ll be shocked at the little things that are being overlooked. At the end of the day, you need to ensure that you value their time, so they can value your service.
Everyone has bad experiences, sometimes they learn and move on, other times it festers and boils into a giant ball of distrust. With these kinds of people, it does not take much to aggravate them. Can it be considered as a transfer of aggression? In a small way, yes. But for the most part, customers like this are just trying to ensure they don’t get bitten in the behind again.
For anyone who works in the health or finance industries, this is probably a common occurrence. In these two instances, it's very easy for people to get hurt or swindled, so they believe that they need to put up a solid and abrasive front to guard against that.
This may sound like it's coming from a broken record, but, once again, you need to empathize. There’s nothing quite as bad as kicking a dog when it's down, so you need to ensure that you aren’t on the offensive here. Be patient and really listen, so you can decipher what the major concern is. It's only then that you’ll be equipped to deal with it accordingly.
How Do You Deal With the Situation?
Not every situation is the same, you could think you’ve seen it all when it comes to customers getting upset. Every day brings a new situation. But if one thing is evident from what we’ve looked at so far, it's that a lot of the strategies you’ll use are the same. Here are the cardinal ones that will undoubtedly get you through anything.
Try to understand why
It's easy to mentally roll your eyes and spurt out generic phrases like ‘we are sorry for the inconvenience’ or ‘apologies for the delay’. But, you’ll defuse the situation faster and better if you simply listen and act from a stance of understanding.
Whether you are speaking to them one on one or using a live chat platform, sounding genuinely concerned will help you manage the situation. So, take a step back to understand the customer’s concerns and problems. Is it a misunderstanding, or an error on your side? Either way, once you know you’ll be better equipped to deal with it.
The world does not revolve around your company, that is one thing every service provider should keep in mind. As mentioned above, there are so many external triggers that can affect their mood before they hit a snag in your services. At this point, it could be a ‘feather breaking through a steel door’ type of situation.
So, be grounded and let them say their piece, also try your best to answer their questions in a very straightforward and calm way. Further, arm them with enough information to placate them and give them a sense that they are being kept in the loop.
Watch what you say and how you say it
There’s no blanket solution when it comes to finding the right tone for situations. You need to ensure that you acknowledge your customer’s individuality because if you use a one-size-fits-all approach, it's a major gamble. Communicate in a way that makes them feel important and heard. For the most part, feeling heard comes in different forms for different people.
Again, do not use generic lines, because that’s plain lazy in this age of competitive markets. Get in there and have a conversation, who knows? Your words and tone can help you win over a customer to the ‘loyal’ side.
Do the right thing
Sometimes, the most difficult thing to do is blatantly tell a customer that they are wrong. The customer is always right, they say, it's even in the opening of this article. Everyone, including the customer, knows that the customer is not always right. But you’ve got to pick your moments to let them know. Sure, there are times when the business is genuinely at fault, but in other cases, customers blow things out of proportion when they are the defaulters.
In this case, you first need to be polite, but firm in your refusal to do something wrong or impossible. Do not make promises you know your business cannot redeem all because you feel backed up to the wall. It’ll come to bite you in the heinie in the very near future. So, pick your battles carefully and your words even more carefully.
At this point, this is a broken record, but it's one you need to hammer into your mind till it sinks in. Empathy is a business owner’s and service provider’s best friend, there is no doubt about that. If you keep your wounded pride aside for a second because let’s face it, some angry customers really drive it home, you’ll defuse the situation in no time. Offering up some lame apology is only going to act like a little band-aid on a gunshot wound.
Also, try to understand where they are coming from and let them know that you actually care. Give them the type of individual service that ensures they feel like they are on your side.Don’t just offer kind words, also offer solutions because that is what will keep them coming back.
The Dangers of Not Properly Handling Angry Customers
The news will spread
It could be through word of mouth, it could be through online reviews, either way, you really don’t want bad news to spread about your business. As earlier mentioned, bad news covers more ground than good news. So, you could be dishing out stellar service and have one massive blunder tank your business.
So, try as much as possible to nip the situation in the bud before things get out of hand. Communicate constantly and clearly to reassure them and let them know that you value them to be on top of the situation.
Customers will leave
Sure, it’s obvious that unsatisfied customers will leave, but the thing is it's a very layered situation to unpack. Studies point to the fact that it's a lot easier and cheaper to maintain loyal customers than to gain new ones.
So, if you’re chasing customers away because of your inability to calm them down, get ready to toil for a bit before you gain some more. So, take some time out to spruce up your customer care training, it could and will ultimately keep you in business.
Employees will leave
The bad thing about poor customer service is that it will eventually spread from one aspect of your relationship to another. It created a ripple effect that you won’t be able to stop once it gets to a certain point. Once the customers begin to troop out, the profits go out the window too. Guess what happens when business is slow?
Your finances will suffer and the next thing you probably will not be able to pay some of your top employees. You cannot blame them if they choose to move on at that point, they have bills to pay. So, don’t let things get to the point that you can’t keep your valued employees.
You’ll be blind to your weak spots
As far as business goes, there is no way to completely eliminate blind spots. Think of it as a hydra, once you solve one problem another one practically rears its head. So, you really have to be dynamic about how you stay on top of that.
One of the ways you can get some insight on this front is to simply listen to your customers when they are angry. If you don’t do this, you may miss out on some valuable information in relation to your weak spots. So, take the good with the bad and sift through that information to get some nuggets.
Customer Service Do’s and Donts
- Never delay customers needs and wants
- Always value and implement feedback
- Provide support on different platforms
- Do not overload your employees, there is only so much a person can take
- Take your reviews and social media seriously
- Do not look for little ways to get back at them, it's a business