Keeping Your Cool with a Disgruntled Customer

Lauren Krause
Posted by in Customer Service

How you handle angry customers can mean the difference between the success or failure of your organization. According to a 2013 survey conducted by ClickSoftware, 89 percent of consumers said that they would switch to the competition after experiencing unsatisfactory customer service. Perhaps even worse, 13 percent of unhappy customers would tell more than 20 other people about their poor experience.

Poor customer service can translate into a loss of business, so it is imperative that anyone who deals with the public learns how to handle customer complaints in a calm and professional manner. Here are four proven techniques to defuse a tense situation with a customer.

Listen to the Customer

Katie Borten, owner of branding firm Sisarina and author of the article “Angry Client? Listen and Keep Your Cool,” emphasizes the importance of listening to the customer. The simple act of listening can turn the tense situation around. To practice this technique, consider the customer’s viewpoint with an open mind and without forming any counterarguments. Find out what is really bothering him, and empathize with those feelings. Being heard is a human need that often turns an disgruntled customer into a friendly one, so the ability to listen is an essential customer service skill.

Find Out What You Can Do

Borten also notes that for nearly every customer service complaint, there is something you can do to help the customer. By taking immediate action, you assure customers that their needs are important to you.

Give More Than the Customer Expects

During his more than 15 years of working in the retail field, Jeffrey T. McCormack has learned a few things about customer service. In his article “Angry Customers Are Dangerous,” McCormack says that his company frequently gives free items to customers to smooth their ruffled feathers. This not only makes disgruntled consumers feel good, but it usually results in them telling others about their positive customer service experience.

Don’t Take it Personally

Although it is normal to become defensive when verbally attacked by a customer, it is never a productive reaction. Borton suggests that you avoid defensiveness by detaching from the situation. Accomplish this state of mind by recognizing that the customer is not yelling at you but at the situation. This puts you in the position to really listen to the customer and try to solve the problem to the best of your ability.

Although dealing with difficult customers can be trying at times, it is an essential skill to have if you want to retain a sufficient client base for your company. Numerous surveys have shown that customer service is paramount to customers. By following these tips, you can ensure that your customers will remain loyal to your company.


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