Quality Customer Satisfaction- Dealing with Angry Customers

"Dealing with Angry Customers"You need your customers; they are the lifeblood of your business, and you want them to be satisfied with the products and services that you offer.  Unfortunately, try as you may to achieve total and quality customer satisfaction, you’ll find that the very thing that excited many of your customers, or made them very happy, will be the thing that some of your customers are irritated by or unhappy with. You may find yourself dealing with angry customers.
It can be discouraging and irritating for you the business owner.  How will you react when customers slam you with criticism and speak disparagingly of your programs – products, services, or you as the business owner?  The following are five tips to help you stay in control:

1.Wait five seconds before responding
Responding immediately when dealing with angry customers could result in you saying something you’ll later regret. Before you respond, take a deep breath, wait at least five seconds, and think about the best response and the best approach.

2. Speak more slowly and in a lower tone

Tension will tighten your vocal chords and cause your voice to come out at a higher pitch.  As soon as you speak in a higher pitched voice, it suggests that you are losing control.

You’ll be amazed at how much more clearly you can think and how much control and confidence you experience when you consciously slow down your rate of speech.

Speak slowly and methodically when your emotional triggers are launched and you’ll maintain poise during difficult conversations.  In additional to the psychological effect this has on you personally, you’re also conveying to your angry customer that you are listening and your goal is still quality customer satisfaction.  You’re not allowing their negative comments and emotions to get the better of you.

3. Be assertive – not aggressive or passive

This means, “Say what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t be mean when you say it.” Let this rule guide your conversations with all customers and you will always be confident, cool, and in control AND you’ll always be professional.

4. Take a time-out
When you sense that your buttons have been pushed, take a break. You can tell the customer you need to put him on hold while you review a file, or whatever excuse sounds good at the time. The point is to get away for a few seconds when dealing with angry customers so you can re-group.

5. Use positive self-talk
Say something positive to yourself about the person or try to be empathetic. Thinking more positively helps you respond more positively and professionally. Negative thoughts lead to negative words, and it spirals into a very negative situation.

Of course, I will always include saying a quick prayer for patience and the ability to show self-control and say the correct things to calm the customer.

We need our customers, but it’s important to recognize that as in any relationship, there should be mutual respect.  By taking the difficult step of striving for quality customer satisfaction when dealing with angry customers can often lead to your critic becoming your advocate.



Quality Customer Satisfaction- Dealing with Angry Customers — 7 Comments

  1. These tips are awesome, Yvonne. I have to admit that I can remember a few times when I was the angry customer on the phone.

    I like tip #4 where you suggest taking a time out. That is good but only if the customer service rep comes back to the phone with some useful information.

    Most of the telephone reps that I talk to are very professional and know how to handle some mild conflict…then there are the ones who just like to argue.
    Janette Fuller recently posted..Bronte Kisses

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Janette. Like you, I can remember being on the other side of the line, and one rep stands out in my mind when she pleasantly said, “I can understand how that would make you upset. How can I help to make it right?” My annoyance balloon deflated very quickly 🙂

      The good thing is that for most of us as entrepreneurs and small business owners, we take care of our own customer service so we don’t have to depend on training others to reflect our attitudes.

  2. Roberta Budvietas on said:

    I think one of the problems in many roles is that we fail to realise that the anger is not really directed at us but at the experience. Reflective listening is good but one that I found really helpful especially with parents or children angry that they did not get the results they expected – I ask and realistically what would you like me to do to fix the problem. So often the anger just needs to be expressed so that the person knows they have been heard.
    Its about the 4 Agreements – do you best, never assume, take nothing personal and keep your word

  3. Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA on said:

    I need to work on 2 and 4. I have a tremendous habit of speaking just a little bit faster than most people recognize syllables. (I don’t slur; I just speak 400 wpm normally and ramp up from there.) Get me excited and I sound like the old FedEx guy (which is why I have always had my students raise ONE for a question and BOTH to let me know I’ve hit hyperdrive).
    Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA recently posted..PacMan is alive and well

    • You know, Roy, we’re all going to be working on something, and none of us will ever do it perfectly…or we try for a while then fall back into bad habits. I’m a constant work-in-progress 🙂

      The good thing is YOU know what you have to work on and you can exercise control over that. I love how honest you are about yourself.

  4. Melanie Kissell @SoloMompreneur on said:

    Really good piece, Yvonne! You’ve covered the bases on how to deal with a customer who’s yelling “I’m mad as hell!”

    One thing I’ve learned in dealing with the public in my offline professions for the past 40 years …

    When you’ve got an angry person on your hands (or, as I like to say, “difficult” person), one of the best things to do is to “acknowledge” their feelings. Start there. It seems to calm them down and diffuse the anger faster than anything else.

    Love your tips — especially taking a “time out” by putting an angry customer on hold.

    Melanie Kissell @SoloMompreneur recently posted..No Magic Till You Pay Your Blogging Dues In Full

    • Acknowledging our customers’ feelings tells them, “I hear you; I understand, and I will do my best to provide you with a satisfactory outcome.” It demonstrates empathy.

      I agree, Melanie; that’s definitely the best place to start, and like you, I proved it so many times, especially when I provided customer service for large corporations and people were justifiably upset.

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