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Turn That Frown Upside Down: Tips For Dealing With Angry Customers

Feb 11, 2016 by Stevie Valle

Okay. It’s time to talk about the elephant in the room — the dreaded angry customer. Whether we actually dropped the ball or the customer simply had the wrong expectations, how you handle the next conversation can be the difference between creating a life long promoter of your company or losing that customer as well as a network of potential customers once that story is shared with their friends!

Most people in service have heard the myth, “A happy customer will tell 3 people; an unhappy customer will tell 3,000.” Anyone with internet access can look at user reviews of any product or service and see a disproportionate amount of unhappy to happy customers. But is this really reflective of that product or service?

A 2014 survey done by American Express found that while 46% of people reported they always shared their good experiences, a striking 60% reported they’ll always tell about their poor experiences. Not only that, but they said they'd also tell three times as many people than if they’d had a good experience!

The good news? You don’t have to be at the mercy of statistics. Beefing up those soft skills can help you gain the trust of each angry customer to help turn their experience around before they’ve had time to vent about it to their friends, or worse — online! 

Listen. 
Resist the urge to interject too quickly with a response or solution. While it's fair to assume your customers want their issue resolved as quickly as possible, more than that, they want their complaint to be heard. Cutting someone off mid sentence in most cases, letting them vent their frustrations and lay it all out on the table up front will allow the conversation to ow much more quickly to a resolution. Taking time to listen to what the customer has to say can help you easily ascertain the source of their anger to best recommend an agreeable solution.

Own Your Mistake. Apologize.
While apologizing for things out of your control may work against you, one thing a lot of business owners do is forget to apologize and own up to their mistake or oversight. Think of how infuriating it is to hear your employees come up with 100 different excuses for why a job wasn’t completed. Your customers feel that anger as well when you try to pass the buck. A simple apology can go a long way when dealing with an upset customer.

Empathize.
It’s true that trying to walk a mile in the shoes of someone else can really change your perspective, especially if the customer’s issue is just a case of unrealistic expectations. Don’t expect your customers to understand it takes time and a lot of hard work for a project to be completed. They may have only heard “2 weeks” when you quoted them a project completion of 2 - 6 weeks. Try to think from their end how inconvenient it is to have an incomplete repair or renovation in their home or business. Just because they misunderstood the timeframe doesn’t mean we can’t let them know we get where they’re coming from while we reset those expectations or educate them on how a particular process works.

Commit to Working With Them to Find an Agreeable Resolution.
Assuring the customer that they have your commitment to getting them back on track is a small step from your side that has an instant calming effect. Knowing that the person on the other end is there to see this problem through lets your customer know immediately that your business is important and they are a valued customer.

Any athlete knows the key to a good defense is a good offense. While it’s great to have a nice bag of tools to use when you have to deal with an angry customer, be proactive and try to avoid customer disappointments all together! Though angry customers are a product of doing business, setting proper (and realistic) expectations up front, keeping a highly skilled and trained workforce, and keeping the customer updated throughout the project can drastically reduce the potential for unhappy customers!

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How do you turn around an angry customer? Share your tips in the comments below! 

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