H. G. Wells
Unsatisfied customers are, most regrettably, a fact of the business environment. Nevertheless, you should always keep in mind that you are in business to serve your customers. And the better your service is, the more loyalty you get from them. The way you respond will determine whether the customer goes on to share the negative experience on social networks or instead rave about your excellent customer service.
Today, if you want to build an unmatched customer support service, you need a well-designed strategy for dealing with angry customers. Why? Well, let us just look at the numbers:
- 91% of dissatisfied clients are not likely to do business with you again
- 70% of the time is likely to be spent by satisfied customers when doing business with you again
Ready to take the bull by the horns? The team of SupportHunt is happy to offer you 9 hills to run for turning angry customers into your loyal friends.
1. Realize that customer has every right to be angry
Like it or not, mistakes do happen. If you are reading this article, you, apparently, either work in the customer support service or somehow related to it. Even if you haven’t met a single angry customer yet, you are surely going to encounter him in the nearest future. Here the most common approach is evaluating the merit of the compliant while listening to it. What we recommend you do is to reconsider this approach with an assumption that people have rights to be angry, especially if they are your customers. You can do that even before you know all the details.
It might have happened that the customer is angry because particular product or service did not meet his expectations. The customer can be angry due to previous contacts with your customer support agents. That all could have happened because the problem occurred at the wrong time or in the wrong place. Anyway, you should understand that customers have privileges to be irate. Just pay attention to how their anger is expressed, and it will allow you to find the reason for every complaint.
2. Keep calm
Conversation with an angry customer is just like a line graph. It has its own peaks and troughs. When it is on the peak, the customer is rude and there is nothing to be gained by responding in a similar manner. Without a doubt, that will escalate a conflict, so be patient. Do not interrupt until this emotional hurricane calms down on its own. And when it does, take the opportunity and throw in few reassuring comments.
It may happen that you’ll have to use this strategy several times during a single interaction. Well, we are all different, some of us happen to be more annoying compared to others. When customer’s anger erupts once again, wait for the customer to fully express his thoughts before you approach him/her. Firstly, give your compassion, admit that client has rights and reasons to be angry. Secondly, find out the reasons of discontent. Under any circumstances, you should stay calm and wait for your turn to talk/write back. Focus on listening carefully and acting professionally.
3. Be empathetic
After you defused an emotional hurricane, you should go for something empathetic. At the same time, you should understand that there is a fine line between being empathetic and ridiculously pathetic. Do not just say “sorry.” You should not start making up stupid excuses either. Actually, saying sorry may cause another compliant: “Sorry does not solve my problem.”
As an example, you can take a look at following empathy statements:
- “Thank you for bringing this to my attention.”
- “I can tell you are frustrated, and my job is to make sure you are not frustrated anymore.”
- “I would feel the same in your situation, but we will sort this out.”
Here is an example from our own experience:
4. Nothing personal
Even if you are being cursed in the harshest form and insulted with words, the meaning of which you can barely understand, you should remember that your personal feelings are far beside the point. An angry customer is not angry with you, they are displeased with the quality of products or services your company provides.
In order to drive the interaction apart from your personal attributes try to keep it factual. Outline the issue and give an idea of what measures can be taken to help the customer. For instance, you can say “Let me check I’ve got all the facts straight” or ask ”Is there anything else about the situation I need to know?”
You’ll be surprised to see how helpful it may be in particular situations.
5. Don’t leave your clients nameless
Your customers are people just like you. Don’t you like being treated as a human being? Sure, you do. Addressing your client with “I’m sorry, ma’am” sounds much less sincere than, for example, “I’m sorry, Lucy.” If you use a name, you speak to a real person, who has his/her reasons for being angry, rather than a nameless “ma’am.”
On the other hand, don’t use customer’s name too often. If overused, it can come across as patronising and disingenuous. As a consequence, it would further infuriate your client. There are no rules on how often to use names, so we recommend you to rely on the unpredictable mood of your fellow customers.
6. Get in your customer’s skin
That is, apparently, one of the best techniques to use when dealing with difficult customers. Try to project yourself into the other person, and enter their situation. Ask yourself: “What would be my reaction if I was in this customer’s situation?” Answer this question and you’ll be able to know how to handle the issue. Moreover, through this technique, you can engage more empathy, what will not go unnoticed by your angry client. If a difficult customer finds out that you clearly understand the situation and respond with compassion and friendliness, there is always a chance of them, in turn, getting in your skin. Eventually, you’ll see how your most difficult customers are turning into your most loyal clients.
7. Know your customer
Although KYC (Know Your Customer) is a well-known and widely-accepted approach, not all customer support services understand how to effectively use it in their dealings with difficult clients. In fact, this strategy can help you to discover exactly how to connect with every angry customer you have out there.
For instance, Central-Europe’s customer usually wants to get straight to the point and doesn’t ask questions that can be easily googled. At the same time, Hindus want to chit-chat a little bit before addressing the issue. Based on our experience, Americans attach greater importance to the security of the product and mostly ask questions in order to protect themselves from the issues that might occur after they purchase the desirable item.
Apart from geographical personalities, it is all about keeping pace with customer’s knowledge, tone, and personality. Some clients need the detailed explanation, while others have a high technical knowledge and can handle most of the issues single-handedly. Some people are texting you because they are bored; others do not want to waste time unless you are able to offer an immediate solution.
All clients are different, and if you want to understand each of them, this strategy will stand you in a good stead.
8. Find a solution
Correct the issue and also look for some long-term measures that can prevent it in future. After all, finding a solution should be the aim of every interaction with your clients. Ask unhappy customers about their suggestions. In case they do not have any on mind, put forward your own realistic answer to the problem. Demonstrate your confidence and assure that this particular issue is not likely to reoccur. Do not forget to highlight original circumstances and action that have been taken in order to correct the issue. In most cases, that is all your client is looking for.
However, if your client is not satisfied with the solutions you proposed, you can ask them what would need to be changed, and then find an acceptable compromise.
Try to reach out to an unhappy customer with the following statements:
- “There are few ways to address this. Let us find the most appropriate solution for you.”
- “I’ll investigate this right away and find out why your experience has suffered.”
As a customer support service with a wider experience, we faced, and solved, quite a lot of such cases:
9. Ask for a feedback
Before the era Internet, social media and smartphones have dawned, there used to be the rule that said if someone faced bad customer support service, they would tell ten of their friends about it. Today, in the world of instant-access, a single angry client can spread the word of frustration among thousands or sometimes even millions of people. In fact, negative comments are a way more contagious than positive ones.
That is why it is crucial to follow-up with the customer when the problem is solved. If there is a negative comment pending somewhere around the web, ask them to remove it or at least complement about its resolution. Moreover, demonstrating attentiveness and acknowledgement a couple of days after the issue has been resolved is a clear indication that you really care about your customers and want your reputation to remain excellent.
The team of SupportHunt believes, that this short guide will help you not only to deal with your customers better, but to gain their loyalty and make them your long-time friends. We hope, that our tips will also serve you well in your relationships with people in the tough world of business.