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  • AMi Direct

AMiable Solution #458: Seeing Red: How to Handle Angry Customers

If someone attacks your character, you probably go into defensive mode. But when someone questions your company’s quality, credibility, or reliability, it’s best to take a more offensive approach.

It happens. And usually on a Friday. Your system goes down. Your product doesn’t work the way it should. Orders arrive late or damaged. Results aren’t what customers expected.

Whatever it is, something goes wrong, and paying individuals get angry.

How do you handle disgruntled customers, especially in a world where unhappiness is shared quickly and publicly, but appreciation and positive feedback are slower coming?

First, take a breath. Attitude begets attitude, and the last thing you want to do is fuel the fire. Take a moment to calm yourself, remember that the customer’s issue is with your company’s product or service, NOT with you, and remember these four tips:

  • Be sympathetic…but firm. Keep your own emotions in check and try your best to keep irate customers' calm.

  • Understand ahead of time what your company can and cannot do. Don’t wait until a situation arises. Know what options and solutions you can offer to your customers before you pick up the phone.

  • Clarify and acknowledge the customer’s issue or frustration (that’s what most of us want anyway, right—to be heard?). It sounds obvious, but if your customer is ranting, it may not be clear what the problem is. Listen carefully, ask questions, and state your understanding of the situation back in a kind and patient manner. You might try saying something like, “If I understand correctly, you’re having trouble with…” or “You’re saying…”

  • Be honest. If you can’t provide a good solution or the solution that the customer wants, let him/her know why. Simply saying “we can’t do that” could make your customers feel like you don’t care about them (“I’m just a small customer. I guess I’m not worth their time.”).

If you’re able to resolve a customer situation peacefully and agreeably, terrific! But don’t assume your “no” automatically leads to a lost customer. As long as you treat all clients with respect, address their concerns with genuine interest, and do your best to provide acceptable solutions, you’ll demonstrate how much you value your customers’ relationships, winning them over in the long run.

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