How To Deal With Angry Customers

By: First Union


How To Deal With Angry Customers

How do I deal with an angry customer? What do I teach my employees about handling angry customers? What "peace offerings" can I offer an angry customer?

Let's be honest, when it comes to customers you can't please everyone. There will always be that one person who will give you a hard time regardless of your efforts. The traditional saying that the customer is always right still stands true. No matter what line of work you are in, you will inevitably have to interact with an angry customer. This is an unpleasant experience and most of the time it takes the joy out of the job. Frustration can occur between the worker and the customer, where typically the customer fails to care about the customer service representative's feelings. They only want to resolve what got them angry as quickly as possible and their dissatisfaction to be acknowledged by the company. When these situations arise, it's important to discuss how to handle angry customers with your employees. Building relationships with your customers is a key component to making successful sales because your company relies on your customers.

Make sure your interactions with customers are always pleasurable and you are building meaningful connections, so your customers feel welcomed and want to continue to do business with you. To prevent angry customers, being more aware of your actions and taking into consideration the customers' feelings will improve morale and communication. Depending on your line of work consider starting with small talk and engage with the customer right away to reduce tension. If you have a customer who is demanding and aggressive, and you don't think you are in a position to handle it, ask a more experienced coworker or manager who can assist. Sometimes, working on a problem with more than one person resolves the issue faster. If the customer is still upset, offer incentives and promotions to make up for the problem. This shows the customer you are trying your best and are willing to negotiate and work with them toward resolution. When dealing with a customer who is obnoxiously rude and threatens you or those around you, it's usually best to escort that customer out or call security. Keep in mind that you will still have to protect yourself and those around you. It's okay to ask for help, especially if you feel you are in any sort of danger.

Stay Calm

Try your best to remain calm and collected, and make sure you don't react because that will trigger the angry customer further. Nothing is gained by responding similarly to your customer. Use your state of calmness as your superpower and you will be able to push through the situation. Your performance will improve, and you will have a better handle on everything in general. Think about a stressful time in your life where you haven't been calm. Did this affect your ability to think straight and were you very reactive? Did it make everything worse? If you don't already have a meditation practice consider trying it before going into work. Science proves meditation can rewire your brain and reduce stress.

According to Healthline, "one study including over 3,500 adults showed that it lives up to its reputation for stress reduction. Normally, mental and physical stress cause increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This produces many of the harmful effects of stress, such as the release of inflammation-promoting chemicals called cytokines. These effects can disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure and contribute to fatigue and cloudy thinking. In an eight-week study, a meditation style called "mindfulness meditation" reduced the inflammatory response caused by stress." Incorporating a daily meditation routine is a doable process and you can start small with 10 to 15 minutes each day and gradually increase. There are plenty of guided meditation apps on iOS and Android, and most of them are free or extremely cost-effective.

Listen Actively

Never take the customers' actions personally and don't internalize it. Most of the time it has nothing to do with you and it's their own problems they are dealing with. Typically, an angry customer can be upset over a product or service, and it's not something you did. Remembering this will be useful because you will be thinking more practically and won't be as reactive. Don't underestimate the power of active listening. Sometimes a customer will walk in and just need someone to listen to them vent or will over complain about something irrelevant. Listening can defuse many situations and helps the customer feel acknowledged. After the customer has expressed their concerns, ask relevant questions and try to get to the bottom of the situation as quickly as possible without making them feel rushed. You never want a customer to feel like they are unimportant, and you are rushing them because it can potentially build tension and that's the last thing you want. Some forms of active listening include:

  • Neutral and nonjudgmental
  • Patient (periods of silence are not "filled"/)
  • Verbal and nonverbal feedback to show signs of listening (e.g., smiling, eye contact, leaning in, mirroring/)
  • Asking questions
  • Reflecting back what is said
  • Asking for clarification
  • Summarizing

Watch Body Language

Body language is a critical aspect when dealing with an angry customer. For example, if you are listening but your arms are crossed or you are slouched, you may appear to be uninterested or putting up a wall by crossing your arms, which is a subconscious way of defending yourself. Practice good posture and keep your head held high. Make sure you are maintaining eye contact because if you are looking around the room and not directly with whom you are speaking to, you can come across as aloof. It's important that you are being taken seriously when interacting with your customers.

Be Understanding

Try and sympathize with your customer and relate in any way you can. If you can see where the customer is coming from it can smooth things over and you will gain more respect from your customer. It will be easier to communicate if you apologize as you mean it. Customers can easily tell if you aren't being truthful when you apologize so remaining authentic will be key.

If you are a manager or owner of a company, look into training your workers on how to best deal with angry customers. Training can offer more advanced techniques and will help everyone be prepared for the worst.

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