Dealing with Unhappy Customers

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When going in for a CSR job interview, if the hiring agent were to ask you for examples of how you would handle an upset and disgruntled customer, how would you answer? Have you ever handled such a customer situation in real life? Now, by handled, I mean have you successfully turned a bad scenario into a winning one? Some people have the attitude that “you can’t please everyone” and so they do not try. A customer is unsatisfied and angry, and some may simply hide behind “company policy” as if there were no other solution. While it may be true that not every customer can be satisfied exactly as they may wish, it is rarely true that you can’t win them back as a customer.

One of the first steps is to step up and take the initiative to act. Do not stand around and be one of those who just says “oh well” and moves on to the next task, but be the one to lead the charge in being a problem solver. Make contact with the customer, and reassure them that you are there to help resolve the issue the best way possible. Let them know you will be the main contact they can deal with until the problem is resolved. Take the initiative and live by a “no customer left behind” policy.

Next, you’ll want to listen and be attentive to the real issue. It is common for people to hear a little of the situation and immediately jump to wrong conclusions. Hear the customer out fully, then repeat to them your understanding of the core issue to be sure you have it right. It is only when you and the customer are on the same page that a solution is even possible.

Find out what solution the customer thinks is fair to resolve the issue. You might not always be able to meet their demands, but let them tell you what it is before you force them to take what you have to offer. While discussing this with the customer, assure them that you understand their frustration or anger in the situation, and be sure you truly mean it. Do not attempt to simply appease them with the words, but let them feel that you do care. Once you know what they want, you can begin working to resolve the issue. When doing so, be sure to “explain what you CAN do. Do not focus on what you cannot do,” says Anne Marie at Adding negatives to the conversation will just fuel the fire for more aggravation.

Apologize to the customer, but do not do it with a blanket, generic apology. Be specific, and empathize with them. Do not pass the buck and blame someone else for the issue, but take the blame as a representative for the company. They do not want to hear excuses or be involved in the blame game, they just want someone to take the lead and help them with a resolution. Therefore, don’t waste time telling them whose fault it is, or why it happened, as a way of blaming someone. Simply apologize and get on with solving the issue.

Go the extra mile with the resolution. Sure, the company may have a plan in place to help resolve the issue, like exchanging or refunding the item, but go above and beyond that and offer some kind of personalized treatment. Mary Ylisela at Return Customer says that you should “take things a step further by offering to help the customer personally the next time they come into the store or to offer online or phone assistance for something purchased on the Internet. Going the extra mile is an effective way to win an unhappy customer back.”

These are some of the steps to take in order to win back a disgruntled customer, and these are the types of explanations you use when, during a job interview, you are asked how you would handle such a situation.

Image courtesy of Imagery Majestic Images at


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