How do I deal with an angry customer? Is there a formula? Is there a procedure to follow? Can’t I just make them disappear?
Have these thoughts ever crossed your mind?
The best strategy for dealing with an angry customer is to do your best to create a win/win situation. But that’s pretty obvious advice isn’t it? And it still doesn’t answer the question.
So here are a few things to do when you have to deal with an angry customer:
1. Set the pace.
In walks an angry customer with potential to make some one’s day as miserable as his. He is anxious and aggressive and his anger quickly sets a new temperature in the room. Other customers start to feel the heat and the attention quickly shifts to you. Now what?
Right at this moment you must set the pace. Angry people will always try to set the pace. They will skip the line, they will interrupt, they will raise their voice and their tone and body language will send messages like, “deal with my problem right now!” Or “I deserve your attention immediately!” Sometimes they will even make you feel like you’re in trouble.
You must push back gently. Make the customer follow procedure just like any other customer. Make him stand in line. Make him take a number. Make him lower his voice.
If you must, use some statements like the following to buy yourself some time to collect your thoughts and choose the proper course of action:
- “Okay, I’ll be with you in a moment sir.”
- “Sir, just wait over there and someone will help you right away.”
It is wise to isolate the problem and show surrounding customers that this individual will not be the source of a negative experience for them.
Remember, it is always your right to demand peace. And peace is the pace you want to set. Make it really clear and do not back down.
2. Don’t be intimidated.
Just don’t. An angry customer is on your turf. They do not have the right to make any body’s day miserable or treat you or other customers in an abusive manner. Too often angry customers will walk all over employees in the name of their self-righteous plea.
Have courage. You will find out quickly if an angry customer has come to seek revenge or resolution. If the customer is just showing up to cause trouble, then you must prepare yourself for a little drama.
Now take the next step.
3. Disarm the customer.
To disarm, in this context, means to “allay the hostility”.
You want to keep this customer from exploding and keep the situation from escalating.
Questions and empathetic statements are always the best method for disarming an angry customer. Accusations are agitators and are never recommended.
Try some questions or statements like this:
- “Sir, would you please explain to me in detail what the issue is?”
- “Sir, clearly you are upset. I would like for us to resolve this issue right away.”
- “Sir, I apologize for any inconvenience you are experiencing. Let’s get to the bottom of this right away.”
The moment you show a desire to understand your angry customer, you disarm him. It turns a “me” versus “you” problem into a “how can we resolve this together” problem.
4. Play hardball if you must.
Now, if your customer has obviously arrived to seek revenge and you have unsuccessfully attempted the aforementioned advice, then play hardball. Call security. Call the police. Turn the tables on the childish customer. It works. If you must do this, do it with class and tact. Show the customer the class and tact they have failed to show you.
It is always the last option, and it is always dramatic, but your goal as a customer service agent is to protect the other customers and deal with the pressing issue in the most professional manner possible.
When all else fails, play hardball!
5. Don’t take it personally.
Remember; this is not a personal attack on you. But an angry customer can sure make it feel that way. Perhaps it is not in your nature to be bold and have a dramatic confrontation. Do not take it personally and do not take the stress home with you. Do your best to treat the angry customer the way you would like to be treated and leave it at that.
Customer service work can be surprisingly nasty. And for the wage, it does not always seem worth it. Hopefully, these hot tips for hot tempers will help you cope.