Angry customers


Listening, Apologies and Empathy – The recipe to deal with angry customers

You may be selling the best products and you may have excellent employees, but your most important asset is undoubtedly your customers. No customers, no business.

Call center agents bear a heavy responsibility being on the front line. In addition to the image they project, they take part in customer retention by their sense of faultless service. But how to react when an unhappy and aggressive customer is on the line? What to do to avoid an impending disaster?

Defusing conflict

As a first step, listen to what the customer has to say and do not interrupt at the risk of increasing his anger! Chances are high that he prepared his speech and is ready to confront you. In order not to encourage escalation, try to defuse the conflict by remaining neutral and maintaining a professional tone and speech. Always talk slower and more calmly than the person with whom you interact.

A little compassion, please!

Mention to the client that his case is unusual and unfortunate. Sympathize with him. You can add that you are truly sorry for the trouble this may have caused him and that, in the same situation, you too would have reacted that way. However, while you demonstrate empathy, be careful not to blame your company or your colleagues.

Delight them

Never say “it’s our policy” when responding to a customer’s complaint. Angry customers do not want to hear about your company’s policies! In time of crisis, all policies should be flexible. So instead, ask the customer what you could do to please him. For instance, « What could we do to improve the experience you are having with our company/product/service? » As far as possible, give him what he is asking for, or offer even better!

I care about you

Only a few minutes of added-value service can make a difference in the customer experience. In case you do not know the answer to a client’s request, excuse yourself and explain that you will ask for information and call him back shortly. Never leave a customer with a sense of ambiguity. Always make an effort to assure the customer that you are aware of his grievances and the consequences for him, and give him the certainty that you commit to act on his complaint. The client needs to know that the problem will be addressed quickly and that the answer will adapt to his needs. At the end of the conversation, give the customer your name and phone number again so that he may contact you about any worries. People love that you give them a name and a phone number because they feel more in control. Then, have a supervisor or a person that can make a difference take a few minutes to communicate with the client. An unsatisfied customer will tend to appreciate this simple gesture since it is rather unusual for a company to do this. Imagine how much the customer will be surprised when he receives a call or email from a supervisor saying « I was told the customer service could not resolve your request when you called last time. How could I help you? ». Remember, the goal is to show the customer that you are looking after him.

Better to prevent than cure

Ask the customer’s approval to document the incident. Ask the customer: « Would you mind that I document your case so that it can benefit the rest of the company? I want to make sure that this problem never happens again. »

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