We’ve all seen those cell phone videos of customers acting wild and crazy lately. Since the onset of the pandemic, police have seen a rise in complaints from workers and storeowners about unruly customers. And online there seems to also be a growing trend of bullying brands by angry customers. So when it comes to dealing with these people, it’s important to remember a few things to not only keep your cool, but also diffuse the situation as best you can and maintain your brand’s reputation.
Read on for some helpful hints you can use the next you face an enraged customer.
1. Listen First
The first thing you should do after saying “How can I help you?” is listen, for as long as possible. Chances are the customer who is angry needs to vent their frustrations, and will do that right away. By simply listening to their concerns and not interrupting them, you’ll find that half your job is done!
What many business leaders find is that when a customer is angry and complaining about something, after a period of venting frustration they slow themselves down because they pick up on the calmness exuded by the other party. The correct behavior is essentially modeled, then emulated by the angry customer.
When they have vented frustrations, calmed down and you have listened to what they have to say, you can then begin the process of addressing what happened.
The temptation is to interrupt or correct their assumptions, but avoid this temptation as best you can!
2. Stay Calm
Many people in customer service are taught that a complaint should never be seen as a personal attack, so they need to remain calm. It’s natural human behavior to feel attacked when someone is angry, but what you need to remember in this situation is that the customer is angry with the company and not you. You are just the unlucky one who has to deal with them today.
As mentioned in the previous tip, remaining calm essentially shows the customer what the correct behavior in this situation is, and they need to correct themselves and start acting like an adult.
So stay calm, think positively and keep your tone measured!
3. Chunk The Problem
Once you’ve listened to a customer’s angry complaints (calmly!) start thinking about ‘chunking’ the problem.
‘Chunking’ is a process of taking a large problem and breaking it into smaller, more manageable pieces. These are easier to fix, and make you more able to quickly begin dealing with the issue, overall. ‘Chunking’ is a popular technique professionals use to organize their daily tasks and enhance problem solving skills.
4. Be Personal
Trying to be personal when dealing with a problem is linked to the idea of remaining calm. By using a customer’s name, you’ll find that they feel you actually do care about their concerns and aren’t simply a case number.
This small touch gives the impression that their loyalty (however true that is or isn’t) is being repaid with a personal service.
As an added touch, if you know the customer prefers formality, use titles like ‘Mister’ and ‘Misses’ along with their last name.
Approach the customer empathetically. Chances are that after they have aired their frustrations to you about a circumstance, they will have calmed down. One of the worst things you can do is then becoming attacking, accusatory, or aggressive with them. This will essentially be like adding more fuel to the fire you just got under control!
Instead, validate their feelings (at least partially) and use the line, “I’m sorry this happened to you,” or something similar. A line like this shows that you recognize their feelings, but you’re not directly accepting any blame. A line like this further creates the personalized aspect of the customer experience too.
6. Don’t Feel Attacked Personally
It’s a natural human response to feel personally attacked when someone is complaining to you about a product or service you provide. It’s important to distance yourself from this feeling though, as it will only create a more negative experience, for both parties.
Instead, try to remember you were simply the person (unluckily) who happened to pick up the phone, or was behind the desk when that customer arrived.
Their complaints are directed at the company as a whole more likely than you, so don’t take it personally.
7. Offer A Resolution
Generally speaking, a customer will not just want to complain, but have their complaint validated with something in return. Do your best to offer a resolution to their problem.
An old tactic would be to offer something next time they return to you, but sometimes all a customer wants is to be heard and a reassurance that what they experienced won’t happen again.
It’s largely a judgment call in this situation, but it’s important to offer something to resolve that customer’s problem.
8. Document & Share What Happened
After a customer’s complaint has been resolved, it’s important to not only document what happened, but share what happened with management. A continual reoccurrence of the same issue will only chip away at your customers’ loyalty. Plus word of mouth still can do great damage to a brand’s reputation these days!
In conclusion, a great deal of what you can do to handle an angry customer comes down to two things: common sense and empathy.
Put yourself in their shoes and think about how you would want to be treated?
These 8 tips will help anyone in customer service, no matter the type of industry they are in. However, if you face a heated customer and can’t think of any of these 8 tips in the heat of the moment, just stay calm and listen.