10 Tips on How to Deal with Angry Customers

Customer Service in Healthcare

We have all probably heard the popular phrase, ‘The customer is always right’. If you run a company or are in sales, then this should be a motto to live by to develop a client-centric strategy that emphasizes meeting their requirements. Customers can now easily investigate choices, sign up for free trials, and post reviews online thanks to advancements in technology. As customer expectations rise, so does the number of angry and disgruntled customers.

However, amidst the tempest of discontent, lies an opportunity – a chance to transform an angry customer into a loyal advocate. In order to stay in touch with clients, customer service now offers a variety of channels, including in-person interactions, phone support, email, social media, SMS, and online chat. 

As a result, an angry customer can choose any channel for communication that is convenient for them. So, you get the opportunity to resolve their issue, explain the best aspects of your service or product, and delight them.

In this article, we delve into the art of dealing with angry customers, armed with strategies that can defuse the most volatile situations and pave the way for a positive and enriching customer experience.

Mastering the Art of Dealing with Angry Customers in 10 Effective Steps

There is no golden rule to follow when it comes to dealing with angry customers. Whether interacting with them in-person, on the phone, or via email, customer service representatives and support teams must take a moment to adapt the situation and approach them accordingly. 

Every unfortunate encounter with an irate customer presents an opportunity to strengthen the bond and transform a potentially negative experience into a positive one.

Despite the wide range of scenarios that can arise while handling angry customers, here are ten best tips with sample responses to ensure their satisfaction.

1. Listen actively

The best thing you can do while dealing with angry customers is listen. Whether you are handling them on the phone or face to face, you need to make sure that your customers feel heard, seen, and understood. 

Practicing active listening skills helps you to give undivided attention to customers without making any assumptions at first. You have to master four basic stages: receiving, understanding, evaluating, and responding in order to deal with an irate customer efficiently. 

Here are some examples to get you started with active listening:

  • Do not Interrupt – When the angry customer vents to you face to face, give them the floor to express their frustration. Make eye contact and try not to focus on responding. It will help you to get a grasp on the situation as well. If you have any doubts while you are on the phone with an irate customer, take notes and ask later.
  • Ask clarifying questions – The next step in active listening should be reflecting and clarifying. If you are dealing with them on the phone or via email, let them know that they are understood by asking questions and paraphrasing. 

     For example: 

  1. Are you saying that you’re disappointed, because you didn’t get a discount? Is that so?
  2. It sounds like you feel frustrated because you didn’t get a reply on time. Is that correct?

2. Acknowledge angry customers’ feelings 

Acknowledge angry customers feelings

When your customers hand over their hard-earned money for a service or product, they also  give their vote of confidence that you are the right choice. So, when a customer gets angry, try to validate their feelings as much as you can. 

They all have their reasons, whether they are right or wrong. You do not have to agree with their beliefs to acknowledge that their emotions are valid. You can solve some negative outcomes just by prioritizing their needs and empathizing with them.

  • Be empathetic – The number one expectation that customers have is to feel heard, appreciated, and valued. Try to put yourself in the angry customer’s shoes and understand their emotions and frustrations. Providing verbal cues like “I hear you” and “oh! I see” to show that you are listening and engaged in their concerns can reassure the customer that you are paying attention, and it can diffuse their anger quickly. You can also show your empathy via email by writing,
  1. “That sounds frustrating for you.”
  2. “I can imagine how upsetting this must be for you.” 
  • Prioritize angry customers’ needs Even if you don’t agree with the infuriated customer’s viewpoint, prioritize their perspective and needs. When you provide unanticipated excellent customer service to a disgruntled customer, they will be pleasantly surprised and more likely to stick with your company as well as recommend it to others. Respond to them as soon as possible if you are communicating with them on the phone, or via email, and assure them that their difficulties will be resolved. Let them know that their concerns are valid by saying,
  1. “You have every right to be upset.”
  2. “I appreciate that you are vocalizing your problem.”
  3. “Your concerns will be taken care of.”

3. Be adaptive and rational

Remember, your objective is not to win the argument while dealing with irate consumers. Your main purpose should be to gain the client’s respect so they will do business with you again in the future. 

It is human nature to become defensive and fight back. Emotional resilience enables you to manage stress and negative events with greater composure. Calmness and avoiding hasty judgments can lead to better conflict resolution.

  • Stay calm – When you are dealing with angry customers, staying calm allows you to approach conflicts more tactfully and diplomatically. Being calm enables clear, logical thinking, which aids in problem-solving and prevents impulsive actions. So, it reduces the chances of making mistakes or regrettable choices that could cost you a customer and have a long-term consequence for your business. When you are speaking to an irate customer on the phone or face-to- face, you can say,
  1. “Let’s take a moment to collect our thoughts.”
  2. “Let’s find a way to work through this peacefully.”
  • Do not indulge in blame game – Instead of an excuse, customers prefer a solution. Whichever party is to blame is irrelevant to them. Therefore, blaming the client simply serves to worsen the situation. 

Let’s say your customer was irate because he couldn’t access the internet to use the service you offered. Giving him instructions or a handbook to follow is preferable to just calling attention to his mistake. For instance, don’t dismiss their issues by saying,

    1. “It’s not our fault.”
    2. “I think you’re overreacting.”
  • “I don’t understand why you are feeling this way.

4. Show a positive attitude

Optimism is fostered by a positive mindset. Be appropriately enthusiastic. It is a contagious attitude that makes customers believe they are receiving the proper support from someone who will assist them in finding solutions to their concerns.

  • Do not take things personally –  Remember that it’s about them, not about you, when they are scolding and calling names. Perhaps they had a bad day, and it was convenient for them to direct that anger at you. Give them some time to cool off by using these phrases,
  1. “Hey, I understand that you’re feeling frustrated.”
  2. I am sorry that it made you upset.”
  • Make an effort to create a positive environment – When you encounter angry customers face to face, showing some grace and compassion can go a long way to de-escalate the situation. It also reduces the likelihood of violence and preserves the working environment. Small proactive approaches can be taken in these scenarios.

      For example,

  1. Smile while you are speaking to the angry customer. Your voice automatically sounds more positive and friendly, even if you are on the phone.
  2. Be positively enthusiastic by asking questions like, “Hey, what can I do for you?” “Is there anything else I can offer to you?” 

5. Take ownership of an irate customer’s problem

It takes effort to be accountable and take ownership of issues. Foster a sense of safety.   Show the customer that you are ready to manage the situation by speaking authoritatively and with confidence. The consumer will become more irritated and doubt your ability to control the issue if you sound uncertain or stammer.

  • Accept the responsibility of helping the customer – Refrain from placing blame on the customer or making excuses for the issue. Instead, focus on finding a solution and taking responsibility for resolving the problem. When you are handling an angry customer on the phone, in-person, or via email, make them feel as though they are speaking to the correct person who can genuinely assist them. You can respond with a confident tone by saying,
    1. “I am going to work this out for you.”
  • “I will schedule an appointment with my team to resolve your issue.
  • Pass it on if necessary – If you are dealing with a challenging problem that is out of your control, give it to the right person along with the information you need to quickly upskill them. Avoid disputes and do not dismiss the concerns of irate clients. Keep talking to the customer and learning as much as you can. For example,
  1. “I am forwarding your inquiries to the other department. Your problem will be solved anytime soon.”
  2. “Kindly give me some time to look into this.”

6. Think on your feet

If the unsatisfied customer has multiple issues, prioritize the most urgent ones. For example, if they are experiencing a critical problem with a product or service, address that before moving on to less severe issues. Prior knowledge of the company policy will help you to assist the angry customers more efficiently.

  • Prior knowledge on company/business policy –  Front-line customer service agents deal directly with customers. It is better to be aware of the policy before proceeding without consulting the superior when an angry consumer demands any compensation or return from them. When you are dealing with irate and unhappy clients about any product, it can occasionally be better to replace it without escalating the matter. In comparison to the substantial positive feeling, it would foster with the customer, the seeming expense is negligible.

      For instance,

  1. If a customer gets angry over a food item in a restaurant, it would be best to simply replace it. By doing this, the restaurant will avoid any bad press, and that individual might end up becoming a frequent patron.
  2. Airline companies sometimes offer a free upgrade to difficult passengers just to diffuse the situation.
  • Be ready to fix/ offer replacement, exchange, or refund –  A trusted company like Amazon recently made a blunder by sending two boxes of biscuit cereal instead of a laptop to a customer. The online retailer from Amazon said, “We’ve contacted the customer directly, apologized, and refunded in full.” Think about the big picture, not just one particular scenario. A customer can become a regular based on the service they get during a dispute.

7. Emphasize on resolving the situation

Whether you are dealing with angry customers face-to-face, on the phone, or via email, they expect customer service to be faster. If they face too many complications to reach out to the provider, they may abandon the business for good. 

So, the top priority for a service or product provider should be convincing the customer that their problems are getting fixed. De-escalate the situation at first by expressing regret and outlining possible solutions.

  • Apologize to diffuse the situation where applicable – Apologize sincerely for any inconvenience or negative experience the customer has faced. A heartfelt apology can help in building rapport and trust with the customer. You can use some phrases like,
  1. “I apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you.”
  2. “I value our relationship and I don’t want this to come between us.”
  • Explain the situation to the customer – If you cannot resolve the issue immediately, let the customer know what steps you will take to address their concerns and when they can expect a resolution. Provide them with some compensation for the inconvenience they endured as a result of the company’s mistake. You can call them up by saying,
  1. “Hey! Until the problem is solved, we are giving you a promo code to use for your future purchases with us.”
  2. “We are going to give you a free subscription for a month.”

8. Escalate the issue where necessary

If you are unable to resolve the customer’s issues at your level, be prepared to escalate the matter to a higher authority or supervisor who can provide additional assistance. 

  • Ask for another representative –  Sometimes presenting a new representative might help calm an irate customer. It gives them the impression that they are important. Keep the other agents informed of the situation before transferring the baton to them. The conversation can be reinvigorated by a new representative by saying,
  1. “Hello, good morning! I’ve heard that you are facing a problem with our service. I am here to assist you.”
  2. “Could you tell me more about what exactly happened?”
  • Ask for help from the superior –  Probably all customer representatives have heard this sentence from an angry customer: “Can I speak to your manager?” They feel the need to speak with a superior employee because they believe a more responsible authority can address their issues more efficiently. In this scenario, you can ask the customer to wait until the manager arrives if you are chatting with them face-to-face.
  1.  You can transfer a phone call to your manager if you are speaking on the line.
  2. If a complaint is sent by email, you can respond by including the relevant details.

9. Summarize and reassure 

Be careful not to overexplain when you’re telling a customer what went wrong. The consumer does not want to be informed of all the internal problems, and it may appear that you are justifying subpar service. 

Describe the problem in a few words. It will assist you in ensuring that you fully comprehend what went wrong and what has to be fixed. Make sure to get their problems fixed and reassure them.

  • Summarize the solution provided –  Make clear statements to the customers about the steps that will be taken to solve their problems. 

      For example,

  1. “The service provider will go to your house to fix the problem tomorrow.”
  2. “Your parcel is being delivered.”
  3. “You will get a refund within two working days.”
  • Follow through commitment for future positive interactions –  If you promise the issue will be resolved by tomorrow, make sure you keep your end of the bargain. If you schedule a meeting with the customer to discuss the results of his problem at 2 PM, make sure he receives a call at 1.59 PM. To uphold your promise to the customer, be quick and effective. Get back to them immediately after resolving the issue. Some phrases that you can use are,
  1. “Hello, I am calling you to inform that your problem has been fixed.”
  2. “The delivery man has reached your apartment. Kindly receive his call.”

10.  Build and maintain trust

Even after the customers’ problems have been solved, they can post bad reviews about the experience or cancel the subscription. 

Therefore, emphasize the importance of your relationship and your desire to maintain a positive connection with them. Following up and asking for feedback can go a long way towards improving the business-customer relationship.

  • Follow up on commitments – After resolving the issue, consider following up with the customer to ensure they are satisfied with the resolution. This shows that you genuinely care about their experience and want to ensure their concerns are adequately addressed. 

      For instance,

  1. Give them a phone call the next day to see if everything’s okay.
  2. Send an email to ensure that they are not facing any other problems.
  • Ask for improvement feedback – After dealing with angry customers, it is crucial to assess a customer support system. It improves the quality of the service and makes the provider ready for the next time.

 A few ways to get feedback from customers are:

  1. You can email them a customer satisfaction survey to measure the effectiveness of your support
  2. You can request a customer service rating from them.
  3. Request them to submit a review of the product/service they purchased.

How a business responds to angry customers can make or break the customer’s perception of the brand. It takes consistent effort, attention to client needs, and a customer-centric strategy in all areas of the business  to establish and maintain a good customer-business relationship. 

If a client’s problems are addressed professionally and with care, they can turn into a devoted supporter, and businesses gain from greater customer loyalty, repeat business, and favorable word-of-mouth recommendations.

Every customer has a unique story, and each interaction is a chance to create a remarkable narrative of your brand’s dedication to customer satisfaction. So, next time an angry customer comes your way, seize the opportunity to make a difference.

Your compassion, professionalism, and genuine care will not only win back their trust but also cement your reputation as a company that truly values its customers. Embrace the challenge and let your customer service excellence shine!  

Mrittika Chakraborty
Author’s Bio

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