No matter how great your customer service may be; chances are that you’ll eventually encounter an angry customer. But how can you talk angry customers down off the ledge without losing their business?
Upset customers are a fact of business. But there are ways to handle the situation that will save the sale, keep everyone happy, and rectify the crisis at hand. Here are a few tips on speaking with angry customers when the stakes are high.
- Stay calm, cool, and collected yourself. No matter how upset your customers are, take some breaths, get some perspective, and watch your own tone of voice. Becoming defensive or accusatory will only escalate tensions. Speak slowly and even close your eyes if you’re speaking with them over the phone. Take deep breaths while they’re speaking. Even if they start hurling insults, take the high road by remaining focused and staying polite. Resist the urge to snap back at them or to offer them a crazy reparation just to get off the phone. They deserve respect, as do you.
- Affirm what they’re saying. The psychology of hearing “I understand how you feel” can’t be understated. A lot of the time, people get angry because they feel like they aren’t being heard. Repeating back what customers are saying and affirming that you’ve heard and comprehend what they’ve said is very powerful for trust and relationship building. After you’ve given them a chance to speak, say, “Let me make sure I’m comprehending what you’re saying.” Then, repeat back what they’ve said to you.
- Learn what their goal is. Ask them very specifically what they’re hoping to gain from you. Do they want a refund? An additional service? A canceled payment plan? Did they just need to vent their frustrations, or do they want to file an official complaint? Sometimes what these customers want is actually an easy fix, and they’re only angry because they’re stuck in traffic or not feeling well. Find out what they want from you, and see if you can make it happen. Try to direct the conversation that way instead of letting them complain about you or your company for an hour. By being productive, you’ll fix the situation quicker and get back to serving happy customers!
- Don’t take it personally. One incident or even a handful, doesn’t mean that your business isn’t thriving. Some people will simply never be satisfied. Make sure when you’re done dealing with angry customers to do some debriefing and decide if they had a legitimate qualm or if they just wanted a handout. Then shake it off and move on.