How to Handle an Enraged Customer?
At some point, you’re going to run into the public relations nightmare – the angry customer. While most will not cause you harm, it only takes one with a loud voice to start a snowball that can set your company back months, if not permanently. Properly handling the situation is key not only to keeping your company’s future secure, but to potentially saving client relationships.
Stay in Control
The biggest mistake your representatives can make is to match the client’s anger. It’s much worse than fighting fire with fire – it’s throwing gasoline at it in the hopes that it’ll quench the blaze. Let the customer vent and rant all they want until they’ve got the anger out of them. Wait until they’re ready to talk about what’s really bothering them.
Listen to Their Concerns
Before you can start helping the customer, you have to know what went wrong. This doesn’t mean you should stay quiet. Engage them in active listening. Reword what they’re saying and ask them if you’re getting things right. Not only will this make sure you’re getting the right information, you’ll make them feel heard, which can calm them further. Write things down so you don’t forget and so they know how seriously you’re taking it.
Get All the Details
The first instinct you and your representatives may have is to defend the company. Ignore this instinct. Forget about shifting blame away and focus on helping them by getting all the details. Find out what their ideal outcome is for their problem. From there, you can begin a conversation that hopefully leads to an amicable solution. Help them as much as possible, even if it costs the small business.
Find the Humor in the Situation
Hearing customers tear down your small business can be taxing, but it doesn’t have to be all sour and dour. There’s humor in every situation, and making an effort to find it can help alleviate a lot of the stress and anger that comes from confrontation. If possible, find the humor before speaking to the customer so you don’t risk laughing in front of them or smiling inappropriately. Taking the edge off the situation, at least from your viewpoint, can help you approach them with a clear head and intent.
Focus on Them
Very rarely is a customer out to get you personally. They’re more interested in getting what they want out of the situation, so focus on that. It’s hard to remember in the heat of the moment, but if you want a positive resolution, you’ll have to remember that it’s not about you. Solve their problems.
Consider If It’s Time to End the Conversation
Not all situations are immediately solvable. Emotions can run too hot to control, for either party. Before either does something everyone will regret, disengage. Stop the conversation, and promise to resolve the issue when tempers are no longer an issue. Be careful when you do this, as the wrong tone can imply it’s their fault and further the argument.
Let Them Have the Last Say
It’s a small thing, but letting them have the last word sends a huge signal that it’s more about them than about you. Doing so gives them an opportunity to air out anything else they’re concerned about and lets them have an emotional release. Any comments you must say towards the end of the conversation should be worded carefully. Even something as innocuous as summing up the conversation can seem like you’re telling them why they’re wrong and restart the argument.
How you deal with angry customers can determine the future of the company. There’s no end to complaining customers, but if you handle them properly, you’ll minimize any lost business or negative attention. It’s not an enjoyable part of running a business, but it’s an important aspect of it.