Dealing with Angry Customers 

How do you deal with angry customers? First, have a well-defined policy in place that senior management participated in creating and signed off on. Second, make sure that everyone who touches customers understands, embraces and follows consistently. Third, periodic re-training or review can be helpful.

Best practices for an effective, efficient and engaging customer complaint policy:   

  • Talk less and listen more. And listen to the customer’s words, the tone of voice and, when in person, the body language delivering those words.
  • Tell less and ask more. Ask good, focused questions. Take notes.
  • Empathize with customers – indicate that you recognize they’re upset and acknowledge their feelings. Be careful not to sound like you agree with them. And don’t try to sympathize if you can’t.
  • Strive to understand first. Then, make sure you’re understood.
  • Err on the side of over-communicating.
  • Communicate with ‘Uncommon Courtesy’.
  • Summarize what you’re hearing often to validate your understanding.
  • Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. If you can give those customers what they need to keep them happy, do. If you can’t, explain why briefly but focus on what you can do. If you can’t make them happy, at least try to get them satisfied with the process and your courtesy.
  • Follow up in writing whenever you can to minimize ‘I think I understand what I thought I heard you say but I’m not sure if what I thought you heard you say is what you really meant.

Keep in mind the Paradox of Customer Complaints. Until tested, the concept of ‘excellent customer service’ is a vague philosophical theory and ideal expectation. Once a customer has a problem and complains about it, how quickly and how well you deal with it and strive to make him or her happy again will do wonders to repair the initial damage. And oft-repeated studies indicate that customer loyalty can even increase after the successful solution of a problem.

So, how do you deal with angry customers? Courteously, Quickly and Consistently!