Handling Angry Customers

John Krautzel
Posted by

Customer service professionals are tasked with the challenge of providing customer resolution while still upholding company policy to the best of their abilities. Research indicates that nearly 90 percent of consumers report that they will take their business elsewhere if a complaint goes unresolved. Setting aside personal attacks, providing an open, attentive ear and working toward a resolution are all customer-saving strategies.

Listening to a disgruntled customer air grievances is one thing, but when the venting turns personal, things get a bit trickier. Unfortunately, this is also the point at which the chance for customer resolution becomes most critical. Many customer service professionals have found themselves in quickly escalating situations after responding in a manner that only exacerbated things. Remembering that the customer is dissatisfied with the company's product or service and not you specifically is the first crucial step in customer resolution.

Empathy goes a long way toward keeping both you and the customer calm. According to branding experts, customers want to feel that they are being both heard and understood. Simply spewing company policy is not likely to lead to a successful resolution and may even lead to a lost customer. Although it is easy to think that the extent of the problem begins and ends with that single interaction, statistics indicate that's simply not true. In fact, a single disgruntled customer may tell as many as 20 other people about an unsatisfactory experience. Trying to put yourself in the customer's position as you listen to the complaint is key to customer resolution and maintaining an ongoing relationship with that customer. Doing this makes it easier to understand why the customer is angry, as well as what the customer needs and wants to resolve the issue.

Once a customer service representative determines what is required to provide complete customer resolution, it is imperative to follow through. Be careful here. Some customer service representatives fail by promising things that are simply not within their power to deliver. This escalates the situation just when it should be reaching a defusing point. It is vital that you know and understand your company's policies on offering refunds, exchanges and credits and what you can do without getting approval from management. Companies typically provide some leeway to their customer service professionals so they can quickly resolve issues, but if you're not sure, check with a supervisor.

When an angry customer vents uncontrollably, it's sometimes difficult to remember that customer resolution really only requires a few simple courtesies that everyone on either side of the situation can appreciate. Listening, empathizing and following through are three customer-saving strategies that, more often than not, defuse irate situations and help build strong customer relationships, which are key to maintaining a company's reputation in the industry.

Photo contributed by imagerymajestic at freedigitalphotos.net.



Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch