We’ve all been there – an angry customer calls and you have to deal with a difficult situation. It can be quite upsetting, even ruin your day. These simple tips will help you deal with even the most irate customer.
1. Don’t take it personally
This is probably the most important thing to remember if you want to survive as a customer service rep. A customer might call in a towering rage, but you can’t let it get to you. They’re not mad at you. They’re just feeling extremely annoyed with your company when they call.
Think back to the last time you had a bad experience with a business, or were just feeling really frustrated in general.
You might have lashed out in the heat of the moment and said some things you didn’t really mean. Maybe you regretted it afterward.
The vast majority of people understand that it isn’t your fault and will act reasonably if you give them some time to calm down.
2. Be patient
Responding to anger with more anger will just cause things to escalate. This is bad for your health and your business.
Give the customer the chance to vent their frustration so you can start finding the solution to their problem. This is what you both want, after all.
Take a deep breath and count to ten. The best thing you can do is remember to breathe. People often unconsciously hold their breath during stressful situations and that just increases the stress.
3. Use a calm and soothing tone
It’s human nature to feel like you have to match the tone of the person you’re talking to, but in this case you want the customer to match your relaxed tone and demeanor.
4. Acknowledge their concerns
Once the customer has gotten their feelings off their chest, they usually pause for a moment. This will give you a chance to show that you care about their issue.
Often simply acknowledging their concerns and feelings will do a lot to defuse the situation.
Saying something like, “I understand how frustrated you must feel. I’m going to do everything I can to fix this issue for you,” can go a long way.
5. Stay focused on the facts
Don’t let the conversation get sidetracked. Keep your eyes on the prize – the solution.
Acting defensive just wastes time. Maybe the problem was actually caused by something the customer did. However, bringing that up wouldn’t be a productive use of your time.
Focus on getting the information you need to resolve the call.
6. Put yourself on their side
The last thing you want is to put yourself in an adversarial relationship with the customer.
You’re both on the same side. You both want to see the issue resolved as quickly as possible and for the customer to go away happy.
Show that you empathize with them. Apologize for the problem. It doesn’t matter if they’re wrong. If you want them to stay your customer you can say something like, “I’m sorry you’re having a problem with our product. Let’s work together to solve this issue.”
7. Let them know you’re listening
If you’re meeting in person, adopt the right body language. Stand up straight. Don’t cross your arms; maintain eye contact.
Use your active listening skills. If appropriate you can use phrases such as “uh-huh” or “I’m listening.” Recap the problem in your own words, both to show you’re paying attention and make sure you understand correctly.
Ask them if they agree with your summary and if they want to add any more information.
If you’re on live chat make sure not to leave them hanging. If you need to research their issue, tell them what you’re doing and how long you’ll be unavailable.
8. Give them a solution
Obviously, the best outcome is for you to quickly come up with a solution that easily solves all their concerns. Unfortunately, the angriest customers can have the most difficult problems. (That’s probably why they’re so upset.)
Some customers are already at the end of their rope when they call. They might demand to speak to a supervisor right away. Transferring them might be the right thing to do, but why not try to resolve it yourself first?
You can say something like, “My supervisor’s on another call right now, but I’ll be happy to transfer you when she’s done. Why don’t you tell me what’s wrong so we can get the process started?” This will give you the opportunity to fix it yourself. You can always call in your supervisor if you need help.
No matter what kind of issue they have, reassure them that you’ll do whatever it takes to make it right.
If it can’t be resolved in one call tell them in detail what steps you’re going to take next and how the process will lead to the solution they desire.
9. Follow up to make sure the issue is resolved
Get their contact information and send a follow-up email, or call, to make sure they’re satisfied. An angry customer who’s had their issues resolved can become an even bigger advocate for your brand than a customer who’s never had a problem.
10. Act on feedback
If you’re hearing a lot of customer complaints on the same issue it might be time to bring it up with management. The best solution to a problem is to make sure it never happens in the first place.
11. Take care of yourself
Once you’ve successfully dealt with a difficult customer, give yourself a pat on the back and congratulate yourself on a job well done. You’re a customer service superstar! Don’t think of it as bragging or being conceited. Handling angry customers is a difficult job and you need a morale boost.
Take a few minutes to get back to normal. Maybe get a cup of coffee or take a 5-minute walk if you can. You can also try some relaxation techniques such as imagining yourself in a peaceful, happy place. A few minutes conversation with one of your colleagues might help you de-stress.
Whichever method you choose, try to release the tension from your body and mind. Your health will benefit and you’ll be able to bring your best to the next customer.