12 Steps to Handling an Angry Customer
Whether we want it or not, unhappy customers are part of business. Handling grumpy people is never fun, but there are a few things that can help along you when confronted by the not so happy campers.
- Understand Your Client (Base)
Understanding your customers’ business is key to comprehending the complaint and how the issue is affecting them.
Sometimes people just want to be heard. Being a good listener and allowing your customer to let out steam often calm things down and makes finding an effective solution easier.
- Don’t Take It Personally
It can be difficult not to take negative comments about your business personally, but there’s no reason you should. By distancing your own emotions from the complaints, you avoid getting defensive and argumentative. Irritation with and upset client will only make things worse.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and let them know that you understand their frustration. This is a great way to defuse.
- Ask (the Right) Questions
By asking the right questions, you not only get a better understanding of the issue, but also communicate to your customer that you are willing to listen and potentially resolve the complaint.
- Consider the Costs
After understanding the client’s complaint and what they expect as compensation, you must weigh the cost of losing them as a customer to giving in to their request. Take some time to consider the consequences of each scenario before offering anything.
- Take it as a One-time Deal
If you decide to compensate your customer in some way, make sure they understand this is a one-time offer. If the same person comes back later on, asking for the same deal, maybe losing this person’s business isn’t such a bad thing after all.
- Tell Them What You’ll do
The next step is explaining what you are going to do. Don’t reveal everything you’re willing to do at once, but see it as a negotiation.
- Deliver More
The term ‘under-promise and over-deliver’ exists for a reason. By giving the customer something unexpected, you can turn a bad experience into a good one. This can be something as simple as beating a deadline, provide outstanding customer service, or a hand-written apology.
If you for some reason are unable to meet the demands of your customer, the least you can do is offer a sincere apology.
- Say Thank You (If You Part Ways)
If, despite your efforts, your client decides to end your relationship, make sure you thank them for your time together. This isn’t only the most civil thing to do, but also increases the chances of the customer coming back to you after ending it on good terms.
- Follow Up (If Possible)
Just as you would with a sale, following up after an encounter with an unhappy customer is important. A simple email or short phone call can be enough to make your customer forget why he or she was ever upset in the first place!
For another example of how a poor customer experience can be rescued, see also Customer rentention and relationship management - A perfect example.