8 Tips on How to Deal with Angry or Difficult Customers
As Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Knowing how to not only deal with an angry customer but learn from these customer experiences can truly help your business flourish.
Unfortunately, upset customers do not always express themselves. In fact, 91% of customers who are unhappy rarely voice their complaints and will simply leave the brand or business without ever making a fuss. So, for those that do express their customer complaints, it’s imperative to manage and deal with them in an effective and solution-oriented way that will help them stay with your business in the long run.
So how can you transform a bad experience into a positive one? How can you de-escalate a conflict and transform a disgruntled customer’s negative experience into a constructive learning opportunity instead?
Here are eight handy conflict resolution tips on how to deal with angry customers:
- Remain calm and professional
- Identify the root cause and apologize
- Don’t react, just listen
- Don’t take it personally
- Provide personalized attention
- Offer reasonable concessions
- Find the solution quickly and honor your commitments
- Follow up with the customer
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1. Remain calm and professional
It’s absolutely essential for businesses today to be professional during every point of contact with a customer, especially during tense situations or problem-solving incidents.
It can be challenging to handle difficult situations with a customer without losing one’s cool, especially if you feel that the customer doesn’t have all the context or is simply wrong. But for local businesses like yours, every customer relationship plays a huge impact on future potential sales. One negative customer incident can spread through word-of-mouth and impact your business’s reputation.
So, take a deep breath, ensure your body language and tone are warm and inviting, and remain calm during all customer reactions. Allow the customers to express their grievances, and resist the temptation to argue. Keeping composed instead of getting angry and/or retaliating will pay off in the long run.
2. Identify the root cause and apologize
Today, 72% of customers believe that explaining their problem to multiple customer service agents is poor customer service. Make sure your customers don’t have to go through the displeasing process of repetition with your own support team.
Chances are, as a local business, your customers won’t wait long to express any dissatisfaction they have with your services. For example, if you operate as a plumber or electrician, customers will probably bring any issues to your attention within 24 hours.
Gauge the customer’s tone of voice, quell the customer’s anger, and hear him or her out. Make sure you apologize for any inconvenience caused and note the reason why the issue occurred, so you can avoid it in the future.
3. Don’t react, just listen
You must follow active listening practices when addressing an angry customer. To avoid making a client even angrier, the best thing you can do is give him or her the space to vent his or her customer concerns. Make sure you don’t talk over your customers. Let them have their say and emphasize how seriously you take their problems by being attentive.
Active listening is a key communication skill that excellent customer support requires. By providing your full and undivided attention to dealing with customer concerns, you showcase their value to your business and reassure them of their importance.
4. Don’t take it personally
Remember: A customer that brings up an issue is not attacking you personally, but simply disgruntled by the experience they’ve had with your business. A lot of local and small businesses today are family-run, especially those in plumbing or the HVAC contracting industry.
Because of this, it’s easier to feel targeted and that the complaint is personal. This is especially true if an angry customer starts to stray from the issue at hand and starts criticizing other aspects. In such cases, be polite and use simple, straightforward statements. Redirect the conversation back to the issue and remember that angry customers don’t actually know you or personal facts about you.
5. Provide personalized attention
Did you know that a third of customers abandon a brand or business because they feel that the experience wasn’t personalized enough? This can extend to the way your business decides to handle a customer’s complaint or grievance.
In fact, an impersonal and general response to their grievance may fuel the fire even more. Show the customer you truly care about resolving their issue by using the customer’s name and recalling the details of their experience. As a local business, you may have even known them for a longer period of time; if that’s the case, be especially careful to make the interaction personal.
6. Offer reasonable concessions
Depending on the nature of the complaint, your business might consider offering reasonable concessions. This may come in the form of a reduced price for your next service or even possibly a refund. Concessions are usually in response to a negative experience that has escalated beyond the norm or are a way to effectively “right a wrong.” However, it’s important not to just throw concessions at every upset customer. Diligently assess the level of severity first, then determine an appropriate concession in a way that brings your business the best value and resolves the central issue.
7. Find the solution quickly and honor your commitments
It’s one thing to identify the root cause of a customer’s grievance; it’s another to follow through with a solution and honor any commitments you’ve made. If, for example, you’re a plumber who incorrectly installed a drain pipe and said you’d fix the problem for free within the next week, you must follow through and honor that commitment.
This might mean you’ll have to reprioritize a couple of things in order to do so. Still, it may very well be worth it. In fact, studies have shown that if you find a viable solution for an angry customer, 70% of those customers will choose to do business with you again!
8. Follow up with the customer
Last but not least, check up on the angry customer and ensure that all of their needs have been met. Going one step further to ensure that the customer is no longer upset can help with customer retention rates, as it shows that you are dedicated to their entire journey instead of just a quick fix.
Follow up through a phone call or even on social media. Or, ask for a review. This is often an overlooked step but can be the difference in turning a negative customer experience into a positive one.
Signpost is used by thousands of local service businesses to build a trusted reputation online with reviews. Let us show you how our review software works.
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Dealing with angry customers is a challenge for many businesses of all types, not just the small ones. By knowing just how to tackle an angry customer complaint, you can transform even the most disgruntled customer into a loyal customer.
Aside from the above tips, Signpost can also help you retain your customers and keep those satisfaction ratings up high.
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