Customer Service

Handling Angry Customers

Angry and difficult customers are a challenge that every entrepreneur will face. When your time comes, will you be ready? This article explains how to deal with angry customers.

Small business owners know that angry customers are an unavoidable part of doing business. Sooner or later, you are going to encounter people who are not happy about some aspect of their relationship with your company.

But an angry customer isn't necessarily a former customer. In fact, the majority of angry customers will continue to do business with you, especially if you go the extra step to provide a satisfactory resolution to their problem.

Here are some simple things you can do to train your staff to deal with angry customers and keep them coming back for years to come.

Resolve the Problem Quickly

No one likes to be ignored, particularly if they have a problem. The worst thing you can do when dealing with angry customers is to put off their complaint or send them on a wild goose chase to find someone who will help them. Respond promptly to their concerns and let them know that helping them is your top priority.

Don't Take It Personally

Emotions run high in situations involving irate customers. Even though the problem may have been out of your control, the customer will likely focus his frustration toward an employee because at that moment the employee represents the company. Avoid the temptation to take the complaint personally. Instead, try to diffuse the emotion of the moment by remaining calm and responding in a reasonable manner.

Admit Your Mistakes

If you or a member of your staff has made a mistake, admit it. Nothing gets accomplished by trying to maintain the appearance of perfection. The customer just gets more frustrated and angry than they already are. Sometimes simply admitting a mistake will be enough to satisfy the customer and resolve the problem.

Be Nice, But Firm

It's good business to always maintain an attitude of courtesy and respect toward your customers, even when they are treating you badly. But being nice doesn't mean that you have to always give in, either. Instruct your employees how to be polite to difficult customers while being firm about your company's policies.

Support Your Employees

Your employees need to know that you will stand behind them when they are placed in the difficult position of dealing with an irritated customer. Nothing is more demoralizing for an employee than watching their employer take the customer's side against them, especially if they are enforcing the policies you have laid down for them.

Make a Peace Offering

If all else fails, make a peace offering in the form of a minor concession or free merchandise. This doesn't have to be expensive. For example, when restaurants encounter angry patrons it's not unusual for them to offer a free dessert or appetizer to diffuse the situation. The majority of angry customers just want to feel valued. A peace offering communicates that they are important to you and that you are willing to do what it takes make things right.

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We greatly appreciate any advice you can provide on this topic. Please contribute your insights on this topic so others can benefit.

  • Mr. Customer Service ReP posted on 6/24/2007
    Mr. Customer Service ReP
    I would like to say you are on the money with dealing with angry customers. I am a customer service rep for a wireless company in a call center taking incoming calls. We were trained and coached very similarly on how to deal with angry customers. I feel that I have been very successful in handling angry customers; however, we need to take it a step further. I would like to learn more about best practices on how to deal with customers that are belligerent, difficult, and downright unreasonable...especially when your hands are tied due to a policy in place from your higher ups...what can be said in this situation? I am hoping this will help our satisfaction scores, help the customers understand and help lower our average handling time which tracks the average time we have been on a call with a customer. Thanks for allowing me to express my views and I appreciate any help you can provide.
  • Ken Gaebler posted on 6/26/2007
    Ken Gaebler
    Belligerent customers often can be very abusive to customer service reps. It's important to remember that this abuse is aimed at the company, not at you personally. Customer service reps should be trained in the art of dealing with truly abusive customers through role playing. This makes it much less stressful to handle an upset customer. There should always be an escalation procedure in place to allow you to hand off an angry customer to a supervisor. Empathy is the best technique for dealing with belligerent customers. A simple "I understand why you are so angry. I will send a note to management to let them know about this" can be very helpful. The best solution is to solve the customer's issue so they are happy, but if that is not possible, showing empathy is essential.

    If others reading this article have more specific advice on how to deal with angry customers, please let us know what has worked well for you.
  • elvis costanza posted on 2/7/2008
    elvis costanza
    Good stuff but I saw nothing about the value of using active listening. Most angry customers want to vent and at least if I restate and clarify their issues they will feel validated and I can then move them to solution. The WORST thing you can do is to try to suppress the customer because they are already mad and shutting them off makes it far worse.
  • Chase posted on 8/24/2009
    It's sad to say but the customer is NOT always right. Being a business owner you strive to win over and treat your customers right but there are just some you cannot please. Looking from the outside you may not understand that but as a business owner you deal with the headaches of customers not wanting to pay their bill for no reason, and you can't afford it when you have bills, employees, etc. to pay. Not to mention the time you spent helping the customer too. I found this site where you can give feedback about these customers and warn other businesses about them in and around your area, which is a great tool for all businesses.
  • Macshenry posted on 12/9/2009
    Yes customers are not always right, It's more acceptable to say " Customer is always first".
  • Stefanie Claire posted on 3/2/2010
    Stefanie Claire
    wow.... I like this ...tnx to this I can now handle a angry costumer.......
  • tech rep posted on 8/9/2010
    tech rep
    I've found that most customers who are angry are trying to get something for free. Those with a legitimate beef are usually more willing to coooperate to resolve a situation. Those that are angry right off the bat are trying to avoid paying their bill.
  • Ed Toby posted on 8/23/2010
    Ed Toby
    In the case of a real rude and belligerent customers, management should give support to the Cust. Service Rep. Workers can take only so much humiliation from rude customers. Customers who are rude always look for the Managers. They feel it is the Manager that can make the decision is the ultimate solution to their complaints. Delegation of authority to be a more responsive Cust. Service Rep. is important in dealing with rude customers.
  • Nathan posted on 11/2/2010
    I'm trying to get a job in retail, especially Best Buy, and I just had my 4th overall interview with Best Buy. They ask me questions about how to satisfy a customer, and how to handle an irritated customer that's not in the best mood. Since I haven't held a retail job before, I can't answer those kind of questions without relating to it. So I'm glad that the hints and tips above are provided; I find it very helpful for furture interviews in retail and Best Buy. Thank you for the advice.

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