How to Respond Effectively To Questions That Angry Customers Ask!
INTRODUCTION – Dealing with questions angry customers ask can be difficult. Not knowing exactly what to say or how to handle the situation effectively is a common fear.
You’re at work, you’re having your coffee, some casual conversation with co-workers – it’s a good day. Then suddenly, there he is – the angry customer!
How you decide to handle this situation can truly be a career-altering decision if you don’t get it right.
Is this customer going to leave angrier and more frustrated, then complain to your boss and tell every person that he knows how incompetent you are? Or, will you be prepared to effectively handle the questions angry customers ask?
Will this angry customer leave your office feeling appreciated and understood? Is he so impressed with your professionalism and ability to resolve the issue quickly that he sings your praises to his family, friends and throughout the community?
The answer for you will be determined based on your understanding and personal commitment to delivering quality Customer Service – at every opportunity. This includes having the skill-set to properly respond to the questions angry customers ask.
The following three-part series will help guide you through those difficult situations where your customer service abilities, and your patience, will be tested.
Part One – The Anger
Dealing With The Questions Angry Customers Ask
The common theme of this series is how you can most effectively respond questions that angry customers ask:
“How could this have possibly happened?”
“What is going on here?”
“Do you know what I’ve been through?”
“What am I supposed to do now?”
“What are you going to do about it?”
The irate customer may be shouting; some will be using offensive language; all will be incredibly frustrated.
An important point to remember at that critical moment is that the customer is not actually angry with you personally. It may really seem like they are – but they’re not.
The customer is experiencing many emotions. He/she feels disrespected because he perceives that no one is listening to him. He feels insecure, as if no one cares about his personal experience. He feels as if he has no control – this adds further to his frustration.
The customer’s anger is the result of all these other negative emotions. Keep in mind also that the customer may be dealing with many other difficult situations in his life, not directly related to the situation at hand – and that may be adding fuel to the fire.
Questions angry customers may throw at you may be inspired by events totally unrelated to what they appear upset about. They may be upset with their spouse, employer or whomever – and what happened with your organization was the straw the broke the camel’s back.
DO NOT argue with the customer. It will accomplish absolutely nothing. The customer is feeling injured and the pain inflicted is incredibly real to his. Any argument from you will just cement those feelings and he now has a name to attach to the drama.
Look back at our examples of the questions angry customers ask. Realize that these are the questions that you must have answers to.
Your ability to be an empathetic listener, allowing the customer to vent his frustrations without getting into an argument with him – will be time well spent.
Take good notes during his tirade to show your interest. More on the subject of listening is provided in Part II of our series.
Your focus on connecting with the client and working to resolve the issue will give you the best chance of ultimately winning him over.
By following some very simple steps, you can consistently deliver excellent customer service. In addition, you will begin to experience the personal satisfaction and accolades that come from being one of the best at what you do!
Questions angry customers ask can be scary if you are not well prepared in advance. By anticipating these questions beforehand and effectively preparing yourself, your fears will be greatly diminished.
How to Respond Effectively To Angry Customers
Part Two: Remain Calm
Dealing with angry customers will no doubt test your professional maturity. As a thoughtful leader in your field you must rise above the emotions exhibited during any conflict.
The good news is that anyone can quickly learn how to diffuse a potentially volatile situation, effectively turning a potentially volatile situation into a positive interaction.
Your ability to LISTEN to your customer will give you the insight you need to be able to empathize with their situation and determine the proper course of action.
Most importantly, listen and remain calm. Taking deep breaths as you remind yourself of what’s truly important will serve you well! Good air in, bad air out. 🙂
Bottom line, if you become argumentative it will only enflame the customer and the entire situation can quickly spiral out of control.
Being listened to is sometimes all that an angry client is looking for, and all that is needed to make the customer feel whole again. In many cases dealing with angry customers simply means “listening to them”.
Remember, it’s not so important that you uncover for the customer exactly what went wrong. The past is truly the past, and neither you nor the customer can change it.
It’s much more important to the angry customer that you understand what needs to be done to fix the issue and that you are personally committed to ensuring the situation is resolved in a timely manner. The customer seeks validation – that his issue is serious and has merit. Whether you agree with him or not, you can emphasize that you understand the issue is important to the customer.
Your automatic response when dealing with angry customers – in fact, your instinctive script, upon hearing the customers complaint should be:
“Mr. Customer, I can help you with that.”
Keep in mind that by saying these eight little words, it does not necessarily mean that you personally will fix the issue or that you even agree with the complaint. It does mean, however, that you empathize with the customer, you understand his concern and you will help him by either calling someone who can resolve the issue, or have another expert quickly contact them who will be able to help the customer.
If it’s impossible to correct the problem at that moment then you have a wonderful opportunity to shine in the eyes of the customer. Quickly take ownership and let the client know what you will do to help ensure that he does not have the same experience again in the future.
If it’s going to take some time because you need to research the issue, don’t make the customer wait. In dealing with angry customers, you must be respectful of their time. Let the customer know that you will call them by end of day and will give them an update to your progress.
Provide progress reports regularly until the issue is resolved. By communicating regularly, your customer will feel at ease that you are taking the issue seriously and that you are working hard to resolve the matter. Even if you can’t resolve the issue, the customer will at least feel validation as evidenced by your hard work.
Customers appreciate regular updates and they will be much more understanding should it take more time that originally expected to fix the problem.
Make sure the customer has your direct line and/or has the ability to easily contact you should they have a need to do so.
No doubt about it, dealing with angry customers will always be the most difficult aspect of your day. However, if you do it right, you can turn it around and be the hero.
However, if you miss the opportunity to serve the customer, someone higher in the organization will hear about it and come to you asking what happened.
Remember your instinctive response! You can always say, “Mr. Customer, I can help you with that.” Sounds nice, feels good, right?
“I can help you with that.” Ah, makes a person tingle all over, doesn’t it?
How to Respond Effectively To Angry Customers
Part Three: The Follow Up
How to response to angry customers and still save the relationship can be a delicate challenge that every manager and employee should be prepared for.
After you have thoughtfully and skillfully responded to the customer’s complaint and the problem is finally resolved, you have a unique opportunity to solidify your relationship.
After the customer has had time to calm down and see the forest from the trees, they’ll be feeling better about the fact that you pro-actively took ownership of their issue and worked hard to resolved it to their satisfaction.
In order to fully repair and even strengthen the relationship, follow up is crucial. You should make a point of reaching out to the client a week after the issue is resolved – just to make certain that there isn’t anything else you can do to assist them, and also to tell the customer once more how much you appreciate his business. This goes a long way toward customer retention.
When talking with the client during the follow up, take the time to thank the customer for their patience; tell him that you appreciate his business and urge him to call you directly if he has any further issues.
By making the effort to follow up with the client, which is a step that will not be expected by the customer, you will heighten the customer’s overall perception of you and your company. They’ll start thinking, “Wow, they really care.”
Don’t be surprised is the client apologizes during the follow up call. The customer may later regret his earlier behavior and view his initial actions as somewhat overblown.
Believing that “the customer is always right”, may not always apply. However, it’s important to begin the conversation without judgement and by making an effort to understand where the client is coming from.
Even if you don’t fully agree with the basis for the client’s complaint, it’s not important that you prove the client wrong – it’s better to prove the client “satisfied” – whenever possible.
Take a moment now to reflect on the key points related to the customer experience that we’ve outlined in this three-part series:
- The first thing that our angry customer experienced was you taking the time to sincerely LISTEN to them.
- The second thing you learned here was how important it is for your to TAKE OWNERSHIP AND COMMUNICATE REGULARLY with your customer.
- And finally, you learn how important your response to angry customers is in the FOLLOW UP phase. A simple phone call to the client a week after the incident makes all the difference in securing a long lasting customer relationship.
It’s inevitable, there will always be that one difficult customer who will never be satisfied no matter what you attempt to do for them. That’s life, and to those folks – we have to feel sorry for them to some degree. Everyone has options in how they choose to walk through life. Simply wish them well and move on.
But for the other 99% of the customers who enter the doors of your business and regularly enjoy a positive overall customer experience – they will be all your business needs to grow and prosper.
Every business must remember that if you don’t treat the customer well, your competitor will. Make sure you adopt a TOTAL RESPONSE to angry customers’ strategy.
McDonald’s offers free smiles, Wal-Mart has personal greeters and Disney, well Disney employees are literally ON STAGE any time they are on Disney ground.
The great companies have great customer service because it is truly the little things that keep people coming back time and time again.
Make your place of business, a customer experience to remember! Have a full-proof response to angry customer that will help to protect your business and ensure long term success.
Authored By: Leadership Tools
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