3 Tips for Handling Angry Customers

Ask any employee in any industry what the first rule of customer service is, and their answer almost unfailingly will be: “The Customer is Always Right.” We all know this simple phrase, but we also know how hard it can be to remember it when you are being ferociously confronted by a disgruntled customer, whose claims you believe are untrue.

That’s where you need to stop. Before you feel you temper rising, you need to recite this phrase to yourself, “The Customer is my Paycheck.” It doesn’t matter whether he/she is right or wrong. You’ve been wrong plenty of times in your life as well. Your job as a representative of your company is to ensure that this man or woman leaves your place of business feeling happy, satisfied and, most of all, with the intention of returning, so you can continue to provide food to your family. Many people forget the fact that it is a whole lot easier (and much less expensive) to keep an existing customer happy than it is to find a whole new customer.

The next time you are faced with an angry customer, you need to have a game plan. These 3 tips will help ensure that everyone leaves happy, and that the customer service issue is resolved.

resolving customer frictionBe Empathetic

The bottom line is that the customer has come to you to look for help. And there is nothing more frustrating than having your problem be shot down with responses like, “I’m sorry, but that’s our company policy” or demeaning questions like “Are you sure you plugged it in?” The first thing you need to do is listen to the customer explain their problem thoroughly, without interrupting. Once they are finished, then you can ask questions to understand, but you need to frame them in a way that makes the customer believe that you are on their side. Phrases like, “Oh, that’s awful!” or “I would feel the same way” go a long way in “taming” the customer anger.

With the all too frequently subpar standards of customer service today, you can’t blame customers for assuming that no one is going to fix their problem. Customers have learned that to get what they want, they have to be prepared for a fight. Let the customer know from the start that your business is different, and that you would be happy to address their concerns.

Take Responsibility and Apologize

Too often, people will look for a scapegoat to shift the blame away from themselves or the company altogether. Customers don’t care whose fault it was, they just want someone to fix it. Personally take responsibility for the error that caused their problem and apologize for the inconvenience it has caused them.

Find a Solution Quickly and Add Something Unexpected

Once you have made the customer feel comfortable, then your focus must shift to solving their problem immediately. Remember that the customer has gone out of their way to ask your help with something that should have been right in the first place. Simply solving their problem may satisfy them, but it will not make them a happy, loyal customer. Turn their negative experience into a positive experience by surprising them with something extra for their troubles.

Some of the most successful businesses have a specific monetary amount allotted to each customer should a complaint arise. Talk to your boss about some different options such as giveaways, discount coupons or store credit. That way, the next time you are faced with a customer complaint, you can respond with something like, “I would like to personally apologize for the inconvenience that this faulty watering hose has caused you, Mrs. Jones. On top of replacing it, we’d like to offer you one bag of the potting soil of your choice free of charge. We hope that you will continue to shop at XYZ Garden Center for all of your gardening needs.”

About Andrew Jensen

Andrew Jensen, a business growth, efficiency & marketing consultant, provides business advisory services for clients in the Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; York, Hanover, Lancaster & Harrisburg, PA regions. Andrew advises regarding business growth, productivity, efficiency, business startups, customer service, and online/offline marketing. Follow Andrew on Google+

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