Three Ways to Calm Down an Angry Customer

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When you work in the customer service industry, you’re bound to encounter angry customers. Sometimes the customer is justifiably angry, and sometimes they just might be taking out their bad day on you. A situation can be heightened or resolved depending on your approach. Here are the top three ways to calm down an angry customer.

Don’t Take It Personally

When someone is taking out their frustrations on you, it’s hard not to take it personally. Generally, though, the customer is not mad at you, he is mad at the situation. Taking the situation personally makes it harder for you to look at the circumstances objectively and stay calm yourself. You should never respond with elevated emotion. Stay calm, speak softly and evenly, and never lose your temper. Keep reminding yourself that it's business, not personal, and you will be in a much better position to help dissolve any tensions or anger.

Listen to the Customer

Many times customers just want someone to hear them and let them vent about what happened. That means hearing the customer out and letting him speak without interruption. Patience is key when you are listening to angry customers. Although it may seem like they just want to take out their frustrations on you, they really want a solution and are relying on you to provide one.

When a customer is angry, just actively listening can help the person calm down. Maintain eye contact and nod your head to make sure the person knows you are really focused on the problem. Repeat back, or ask for clarification on what the customer is saying. Make sure he feels like you are listening because you want to help come up with a solution, not because you have to.

Find a Solution

Even if you don't think the customer's anger is justified, it's your job to find a solution. Whether the customer is actually right doesn’t necessarily matter. Your goal is to defuse his anger and work toward a solution that will transform the angry customer into a happy returning customer. First, make sure you remember to apologize that your service or product was not satisfactory for him. After the apology, let the customer know that your first priority is to try to find a solution.

The second the customer approaches you, his problem becomes your problem as well regardless of whether you are technically responsible for the problem. Don’t try to pass it off or assign blame to another person or department. Own the problem and let the customer know that together you are going to come up with a solution.

Dealing with angry customers can be a stressful and intense situation. Make sure you don’t internalize the stress from the situation, and focus on the person and the problem. Actively listening, avoiding taking it personally and focusing on a solution can help you to deal with an angry customer and provide the best possible customer service.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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