GROWING YOUR BUSINESS: Dealing with angry customers

by Dan Beaulieu
Business consultant

Look, it’s going to happen. Someone once said that if you don’t make mistakes, you are not trying hard enough. So, yes sometimes you will make a mistake, you will screw something up that will make your customer upset and possibly even angry. And then there are sometimes that because of some misunderstanding the customer is angry with you and it’s not even your fault. And then there are those most challenging times when the customer is just angry, and he is unfairly taking it out on you. How do you handle that? How you handle these situations will define how truly outstanding your company is.

Here are a few rules for handling an angry customer that will work every time:

  • Stay calm, at all costs stay calm. Do not under any circumstances lose your cool. Remember cool heads always prevail. Do not fall to the temptation of talking back, or defending yourself, at least at this time.
  • Smile. No, not a stupid idiotic grin, but rather a friendly calming smile, that will demonstrate to your customer, that it’s okay, you come in peace and you want to gracefully solve the problem.
  • Use the customer’s name, and in most cases, this means using Mr. or Mrs. Or Miss. or Ms. Do not use their first name unless you have permission. There is something calming about hearing your own name said calmly and politely.
  • Listen carefully, very carefully to make sure you understand exactly what it is that the customer is unhappy about. Do not interrupt at this point. Let the person tell you in her own way, taking his own time what the problem is. Get the complete story from the customer.
  • Repeat what they told you. Once the customer has finished telling what the problem is, play it back to her in your own words. Pausing while relating to get her affirmation that you have a complete and clear understanding of what she is unhappy about.
  • Make sure that you now both agree as to what the issue is. Make sure you are both clear on this.
  • Ask the customer what he would like you to do about it? How can you fix this problem to her satisfaction?
  • Agree to fix it. If it is a reasonable request, even if you are not one hundred percent to blame, if you can possibly fix the problem and repair the relationship then, by all means do it. Agree to fix the problem if you can.
  • And if you are not one hundred percent on the wrong side of this issue. Still fix it. Not only fix it, but fix it to the customer’s satisfaction.
  • Make reparations. If you were truly at fault, or mostly at fault, then not only fix the problem but add something extra to make up for your mistake. This will go a long way towards strengthening your relationship with this customer.
  • Remember always, that the important thing is to retain the customer, the last thing you want to do is win the battle and lose the war. You want to retain the customer at all costs. It has been proven that unhappy customers love telling “horror stories” about bad service. In fact, statistics show that service horror stories are repeated so frequently that often over 250 people will hear them. Not a good thing. Especially if you are doing business in a small community.
  • On the other hand, happy customers love to brag about getting great service. It makes them feel so good and so smart for finding a great company that delivers super services and products that they will tell everyone they know about it… and if your smart you’ll make sure that the company they are bragging about is yours! That’s a great way to grow your business.

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