Taming the Dragon: How to Handle Irate, Nasty, Upset Customers

Most of us have been “that angry customer” at one point or another. When a company makes a mistake, it’s irritating enough; what’s even more unbearable is when they can’t or won’t fix it. Taming an irate customer is possible with the right words, offers and promises…so long as they come at the right time. Subdue a furious customer with these tips before they demand a refund, storm out of your shop or write a nasty online review.

1. Every customer’s time is valuable and concerns should be handled with that in mind. Each time a customer is put on hold or transferred to another department, the business is losing their trust and loyalty while they customer is losing their patience. Empower and prepare employees to handle obstacles and give them the authority to solve problems. Then, clarify the chain-of-command so that when there’s a customer who’s simply too upset to wrangle, they can be transferred to someone in charge.

2. Saying, “I care,” is different than being truly empathetic. The calmer a customer service rep stays, the more annoyed the client may get because it can be misconstrued as unfeeling, not just constrained. The rep’s voice should stay low and steady, but the customer also has to feel understood and that everything will be fixed in the end.

3. Stay connected with your client base via social media. It’s bothersome when a business can’t be reached during their normal hours of operation and even more so when they can’t be reached across their multiple communication channels. On the same note, replace support ticket forms with direct e-mail addresses – even if the process is the same, customers feel that an e-mail will be handled faster than a ticket. Better yet, have live chat available on the website.

4. Go above and beyond for your customers. Simply making them less mad isn’t enough to keep their business long-term. Give them the professional equivalent of a bouquet of flowers, like a handwritten apology and a gift certificate or coupon.

5. Notice that you’re getting the same complaint over and over? It may be time to update company policies. In order to not disappoint, customer expectations have to be aligned with what the business can realistically deliver. Once business terms have been overhauled, clearly communicate changes to customers.

Reading from a canned response sheet isn’t enough. True customer service is about being reachable, fielding difficult problems, providing satisfying solutions and delivering on those promises quickly. Learn about customer service on CRMXchange.

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