Customer Service 101: How to Deal With Irate Customers
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Customer Service 101: How to Deal With Irate Customers

If your job requires that you work directly with people in your capacity- you will no doubt encounter disgruntled customers at one time or another who will elect to express their unhappiness in the form of anger. Bottom lineÂ…they want to make it known that they are dissatisfied with the service and/or the products they've received. You will need to find the best solution to rectify the problem and satisfy your customer.

If your job requires that you work directly with people in your capacity- you will no doubt encounter disgruntled customers at one time or another who will elect to express their unhappiness in the form of anger. Bottom line…they want to make it known that they are dissatisfied with the service and/or the products they've received. So…in order to get the attention of the staff or management, oftentimes they will express their anger verbally and/or by observable body language.  However, for you, verbal retaliation is never an option, nor should you lose your composure while in the presence of your customers at any time. Remember the golden rule…the customer is always right even when they are wrong. Therefore you want to take the side of your customer whenever there’s a question with reference to who’s at fault. Apply these effective strategies for dealing with irate customers whenever you are confronted.

Rule 1

Approach the customer diplomatically

The manager of the operation should step up in place of the employee who was originally confronted by the irate customer before things start to turn for the worst. As manager, you must approach the customer in a polite manner to find out what they are angry about before you can determine the best solution. Perhaps you should take the customer to a private area in your business to find out what happened and to avoid distractions and further commotions from onlookers and even embarrassment on your part and on behalf of the company.  A word of caution; you should be careful as to how you handle these situations. Coping with angry customers is not an easy task. One wrong move could cause the situation to intensify. In other words, don’t add fuel to the fire! 

Rule 2

Listen attentively

You should introduce yourself and your position to the customer first and then tell them that you are there to help them.  Active listening is key in making the customer feel that you are concerned with their issues and that you are trustworthy. Allow the customer ample time to vent whiles you listens.  Try not to interrupt when they are talking and you should demonstrate positive body language as well.  Body language speaks volumes.  So…you don’t want to send mix messages, but give the customer your undivided attention while you make good eye contact and demonstrate friendly demeanor. 

Rule 3

Show empathy

I like to emphasize how crucial it is that you show concern for the customer. Put yourself in the customer’s place.  There has to be a reasonable explanation for the anger they are displaying.  How would you like to be treated if you were in their situation? 

Rule 4

Fix it

After you learn the reason behind the customer’s anger, you will need to find the best solution. Offer a sincere apology on behalf of the company and take the blame for the incident even if they are wrong. You shouldn’t try to defend the company and/or your employee the customer was at odds with or try to justify the situation.  Your main objective is to defuse their anger and win them over.  Give them your word that you will make things better for future visits. At this point, you should conclude with offering the customer something valuable like maybe a discount on a current purchase, or their next visit, a gift card or other nice freebie.  You should also give the customer your business card with your name and a number where you can be reached, should they have any other questions or concerns.

Rule 5

Meet with your staff member(s)

Next, you should meet with the employee(s) that were involved in the incident in private to find out the details.  Could this have been avoided?  Does your employee need more training in customer service?  How can you minimize the possibility of type of occurrence in the future?

Rule 6

Follow-up with the customer

Depending upon the severity of the incident, you might want to contact the customer in the near future to find out how they are doing.  This will ensure the customer that you really do value them and that your company is committed to giving topnotch customer service and quality products.

More tips:

* If the customer threatens to do physical harm to anyone, you will need to contact your security department immediately.

* Sometimes you will need to go above and beyond to satisfy your customers

* Treat all of your customers with the utmost respect

* You should also treat customers who choose to contact you by phone or email the same as you would a face-to-face complaint from an irate customer

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Comments (14)

Great advice. Anybody who works in retail or other type of job that deals with customers should have at least a basic understanding of all the points you make.

Empathy can make all the difference in the world for sure.

Well presented and very well stated. Thank you.

Impressive, interesting and well written article, as usual. Thanks

This is one of the hardest parts about working in retail.

Customer service is sooooo important, yet many managers (and companies) don't understand that.

Good advice, losing sight of good customer service can be a downfall to many companies.

Excellent tips as always.

useful and practical tips to deal with an irate customer.Thanks.

Very good advice.

A really friendly reminder on how to deal with irate customers.

Sometimes we need to be patience to deal with customers who caused much trouble.

Great advice -- I'm a firm believer in diplomacy. I Googled +1'd this article! (and thank you so much, Donata, for buzzing up my San Diego piece ... much appreciated!)

Great advice -- I'm a firm believer in diplomacy. I Googled +1'd this article! (and thank you so much, Donata, for buzzing up my San Diego piece ... much appreciated!)

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