No matter how great your company is, it is still very likely that you’ll come across a customer who’s dissatisfied with your product or service. When that happens, expect that your next encounter with them will be full of vitriol. If it is your job to deal with angry customers, your responsibility isn’t limited to just trying to appease them. You have to learn to actually make them happy so that you don’t lose a customer to your competition.
Here are the things you need to do if you want to turn an angry customer into a happy one and earn their loyalty:
- Do back flips to make it up to them. We don’t mean this literally, of course. What we mean is that you bend over backwards to help the customer in distress. What you don’t want to do is to make the customer feel that there’s nothing you can do for them at all.
So that just begs that question: What can you do for your angry customers?
- Listen to their complaints. If possible, take down notes on the particulars. In the first part of a conversation with an angry customer, they may be really upset. They might even raise their voice. Keep yourself calm through the tirade, even though you may feel like reciprocating the hostility. Keep in mind that they’re not angry at you, personally.
Let the customer talk or vent, and don’t cut them off. The customer wants to be heard, and it’s your job to hear them out.
- Empathize. Once they are done, you can then summarise their complaint, and also ask a few follow-up questions for clarification. Keep your tone of voice sympathetic. It’s like dealing with a close friend who’s upset about something—the customer wants to feel that you are on their side. You essentially have to be their friend during your conversation. Express empathy over what happened.
It may also be a good idea to express some sort of apology for whatever the customer went through with the product or service they received from your company. It doesn’t really matter if the complaint is actually valid or not—the point is that the customer thinks that it is. If you want that customer to remain a customer, you have to say you’re sorry at some point. You don’t have to say sorry as if the company is automatically at fault, but you can say sorry as a form of expressing understanding. For example, you can say: “I’m sorry you had a hard time trying to get the product to work.”
- Offer a fair solution. Now that the problem has been verbalised, it’s time to solve it. One way of doing this is to ask the customer for ideas on how they think the issue should be resolved. This way you can be fairly sure that the solution is acceptable to the customer. You can also offer more tangible forms of compensation, such as a refund, credit, or a bonus, if your company allows it. Your customer has suffered some distress, and it’s your job to make the customer feel that they were treated fairly.
- End on a high note. There are several ways to do this. One way is to thank them for taking the time to discuss the issue with you so that your company is now aware of the problem. The customer may feel better knowing that there’s a possibility that your company will take steps to prevent the problem from recurring in the future. Another way is to use humour, although you must guard against making it seem that you’re making fun of the problem or worse, the customer.
Just make sure you are pleasant throughout the conversation. Converting an irate customer into a happy one isn’t always easy, but it can be achieved with some solid strategies in place.