Customer Services 101: Working With an Unhappy Customer

It’s a new year and we’re all excited about starting things fresh and achieving new set goals. However, what happens when things go south and you’re faced with an unhappy customer who is determined to get their complaint across? First things first – as a client service consultant; don’t panic!

Customers can sometimes get rude or angry for a variety of reasons—some justified, some not. But since you’re in business to serve your customers, you’ll likely encounter rude or angry individuals at one time or another. How you respond can make the difference between a customer who feels satisfied with the resolution and one who vows never to use your services again.

Here are tips for coping with a tense situation and hopefully resolving it to everyone’s satisfaction:

1.     Remain calm

This is probably the most challenging thing to do when dealing with an angry customer but always remember that the end goal is to keep your customer happy and that the anger is probably momentary and justifiable.

When a customer starts yelling or being otherwise rude, there is nothing to be gained by responding similarly. That will probably escalate hostilities. Maintain control of yourself, even if the customer’s rage makes you feeling like yelling yourself.

2.     Don’t take it personally

Your aim should always be customer satisfaction, whatever the situation. How you achieve this is up to you based on your strengths and interpersonal skills. Always remember, the customer is not angry with you, they are displeased with the performance of your product or the quality of the service you provide. Your personal feelings are beside the point.

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3.     Use your best listening skills.

The first thing an angry customer wants is to vent. To do so, they need someone to listen—and, for better or worse, you are that person. Listening patiently can defuse a situation, as long as the customer feels acknowledged in his or her complaint. Hear them out.

When they are done talking, summarize what you’ve heard and ask any questions to further clarify their complaint.

Body language can be critically important here even through the phone. Your voice should be encouraging – sit up straight and ensure that the customer feels heard. Show how closely you’re paying attention to their problem.

4.     Actively show empathy.

Empathy is important, so it can help to show that anyone would feel the same under these circumstances. The quickest way to anger somebody is to suggest that they are overreacting.

Even if the customer’s response does seem out of proportion, there are ways to be apologetic without just saying ‘sorry’. Express empathy for their unpleasant customer experience. Respect and understanding go a long way toward smoothing things over.

 5.     Apologize gracefully

As soon as you identify that the cause for your customer’s dissatisfaction is something your brand did wrong, don’t wait around – just apologize.

It’s imperative to own your mistakes when facing unhappy customers. Only by doing so, they get to see that you are willing to do better. But remember to always be sincere, respectful, and polite. After all, it’s easy to notice when a person says or writes an apology without meaning to.

By now we should know that you can’t make everyone happy. Of course, you need to do your best to make as many customers as possible happy. But, if dis-satisfactions arise, you don’t need to despair and think about what you’re doing wrong.

Your customer’s issue may be something that was out of your control or maybe something several customers are complaining about, and it’s easily solved. Regardless, you need to keep an eye on problems and always work on improving your customer support and give them a great customer experience.

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