It’s an inevitability in any business; you can’t please every customer and, eventually, someone will get upset. But what matters is how you deal with their expectations and come to a common solution.
Dealing with an angry customer doesn’t necessarily have to mean the end of your relationship with them. In fact, with the right techniques and strategies, you may be able to steer the conversation in a positive and productive direction. Below, nine members of Young Entrepreneur Council shared their best advice for doing just this.
1. Figure Out Where Expectations Weren’t Met
A customer being upset in this case is all about expectations not being met. So the key is to figure out what the client’s expectations were and how your team’s service did not meet them. The best way to deal with an upset client is to first figure out the actual issue. Then, recap everything to date and figure out a solution moving forward. Put together a timeline of what happened and a project path of what will happen going forward. Reset expectations for your team and the client. Document everything so that there is no more confusion. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design
2. Be An Active Listener
Listening to what an angry or upset customer says is an effective way to keep that conversation productive and resolve the issue quickly. Show that you care by actively listening to their concerns and make an effort to reconcile the problem so they are satisfied with the outcome. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC
3. Focus On Identifying And Meeting Their Needs
One of the most effective ways to communicate when emotions are running high is shifting the focus to needs identification and resolution. When people are upset, it’s because a need or set of needs isn’t being met in the way they’d anticipated, which creates feelings of disappointment, frustration and even anger. Acknowledging the customers’ feelings and asking questions to learn what their expectations are can help them understand you are on their side and want to make things right for them. Once the needs are identified, inform them of your plans to meet them, including how, where, when and by whom the need will be met. Make your intentions to rectify the situation crystal clear to the customer, follow through with them and then follow up to ensure satisfaction. – Richard Fong, Automatic Growth
4. Offer The Best Responsible Solution
I try to stay attuned to what they really want, even if it is to vent and be heard. I offer the best responsible solution to whatever upset them. That might be a refund, replacement, repair, whatever the situation demands. I remind myself and my team that angry customers can become your biggest fans if met with patience, open ears and open minds. Somewhere buried in that person’s bad day is the most practical, ground-level, valuable info available about your business. It’s a level of analysis no consultant can deliver. – Tyler Bray, TK Trailer Parts
5. Let Some Time Pass First
Listen and be understanding. Most importantly, let them know that you will carry their concerns forward. Try to allow 24 hours to pass if you can, as most people will calm down after at least 24 hours after an issue has arisen. This will allow you a moment to respond and create a dialogue. – Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.
6. Lead With Empathy
Empathy is going to be your biggest strength when dealing with an angry or upset customer. Focus on putting yourself in their shoes. Really try to feel what they are feeling so that you can show genuine concern and urgency. There is nothing more frustrating to an angry or upset customer than voicing their concerns and then feeling like they are being dismissed, or worse, that the person they are talking to thinks they are overreacting or out of line for bringing up a complaint. Even if you can solve their problem, you will lose the relationship if you are aloof or dismissive at all. Prioritize the relationship. – Reuben Yonatan, SaasList
7. Ask What You Can Do To Make It Right
You can resolve most situations where a customer is angry or upset by asking one simple question: “What can I do to make this right?” In many cases, their request is something you can do. If there was a misunderstanding or miscommunication, this question can help you make things right and set expectations for the future. – John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC
8. Keep Your Calm
When dealing with an angry customer, it’s very important for you to keep your calm and understand their problem. Listen to them patiently and apologize for the inconvenience they have faced. Depending on the urgency of the matter, give them a time frame within which you can solve the problem. If needed, don’t hesitate to set a time to follow up with them. This will help you control their anger. But make sure you keep your promise; it is the only way to boost customer satisfaction, which is the key to achieve success for any kind of business. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
9. Remember That This Conversation Is About Them
If you’re irritated by a customer’s rant, you’ve not listened to them well enough. It can be difficult dealing with an emotional customer, but don’t fall for the temptation of dismissing them. They’re directing you on how to build a better product or service and the emotional rant is added fuel to help you get better sooner. To have a productive conversation with an angry customer, you have to have the mindset that this is about them. So listen actively as they tell you their frustrations with your product. Active listening means listening to understand first and not just reply. Something as simple as repeating what they’ve said to show you empathize with what they’re going through at the moment can go a long way to calm them down. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS