6 Ways to Handle Angry Customers

Shep Hyken
Contributing Writer
Shepard Presentation

Everybody has angry customers. Some customers are angry because they have a complaint. Some are just having a bad day. Whatever the reason, you must know how to handle angry customers.

Before I get into the specifics, remember that when angry customers have their problems managed appropriately, they can become your best customers. You’re not trying to win an argument. You’re trying to win the customer. Furthermore, you’re trying to restore their confidence so they continue doing business with you in the future.

So, with that in mind, here are six ways to handle angry customers:

1. Make sure you’re paying attention to the customer. They deserve your complete attention. Even over the phone, they can tell if you’re distracted.

2. Deal with the customer’s anger quickly. Acknowledge it early in your conversation. Apologize for it and begin to work on the solution, which should de-escalate the anger.

3. Stay calm and don’t lose your cool. It’s human nature to become defensive and fight back. As mentioned, you’re not trying to win the argument. Even if customers yell, don’t yell back. They aren’t mad at you. They are mad at the situation.

4. Listen to your customer. Actively listen and ask clarifying questions, but don’t interrupt. Wait for the appropriate time to ask. By the way, take notes, because if the customer is sharing a long story, it may be a while before you get a chance to jump in with a question.

5. Speaking of waiting for the right opportunity to ask the question, don’t interrupt customers for any reason. When you finally do have a chance to talk, many times they will extend the courtesy of listening to you because you were courteous and listened to them.

6. Have a positive attitude. That doesn’t mean you’re all smiles. It means you’re appropriately enthusiastic. It’s a contagious attitude that is felt by customers and helps them understand you’re there to help them. And, the right attitude promotes optimism. You want your customer to feel like they have the support of the person who’s going to help them solve their problem.

Keep in mind that there are exceptions to most rules. To that point, there are just suggestions that, when used properly, will work. The goal is to manage that angry customer and end the conversation with the sense that you’ve not only fixed their problem or managed their complaint, but also proved to them that they made the right decision to do business with you. The ultimate result is when they know that if there is a problem, they don’t need to be angry. They just need to call and ask for help.

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