Every business inevitably encounters dissatisfied, angry, or difficult customers. These challenging situations can significantly impact staff morale, customer loyalty, and a company’s reputation.
If you’ve seen videos on social media about customers actively disrupting a business out of frustration over specific issues, they can be a nightmare situation that can happen to your business.
The following will cover the steps to diplomatically resolve situations with an irate customer.
Swift Response to Customer Issues
A swift resolution is critical to prevent customer resentment over a “slow response” and a bad review – whether that’s face-to-face or online.
Customers rely on staff to promptly address any issues brought up. The more time the issue remains unresolved, the greater the challenge in managing it becomes.
If you have difficulty talking to angry customers face-to-face, you can ask them to leave behind a phone number or email address to set up a private conversation with them about the experience.
Avoid Personal Offence
As the classic adage goes, “Nothing personal, just business.” Some customers who actively fire away during a rant may take things too personally and talk about the employee they address. Remain calm and listen, then acknowledge the points they made while avoiding giving cues. Some observers may say irate customers are a case in psychology as they might be probing for pressure points to force you to react.
A lack of experience handling irate customers can turn a bad situation into a PR nightmare. If that customer had been loyal to your business, you can’t risk them turning on you and actively driving others away into the competition’s arms.
Never Argue with Difficult Customers
Dissatisfied customers may raise their voices at you or the employee attending them. If an angry customer yells at you, whatever happens, do not yell back, as the customer could be provoking you to a shouting match. Overt hostility may fuel their sense of anger and escalate the situation.
While the temptation to yell back seems like a no-choice option, it’s important to remain calm and hear them out. Only then can you try summarising the points and clarify where needed. It can also be a sign that the customer acknowledges that you’re listening to them and possibly calms down for a more cohesive conversation.
Asking for a Resolution
If the customer can calm down and express their points over a situation, you can ask them what kind of resolution they want to see happen.
Do not make the first offer; they could try bargaining for other concessions. The negotiations should establish a common ground, but as the owner, you firmly hold the line when you see that some of the customer’s ideas may seriously affect your business. The customer may take the best offer and save face in many cases.
If you resolve the situation and the customer is left satisfied, you can still contact them for a follow-up conversation and ask if anything else could have been done to handle the situation better. Be prepared for the possibility they wouldn’t want to talk again but take the situation as a re-evaluation with your customer service and operations team.
Other Types of Difficult Customers
Some customers might not be upset with you but may have varying degrees of frustration, like indecisive and impatient customers.
Indecisive customers may be at a loss on what product or service to buy from you. Have an effective customer service attendant who can gently engage them and listen actively to find a product/service they’ll be happy with.
Impatient customers may look rude, but they want fast resolution of issues as they are pressured for time. Visualise the situation in the customer’s eye and reassure them they will be attended.
An Effective Customer Service Team
Resolving customer conflicts can be exhausting and distract from other functions. You will need to invest in building a strong customer service team that will prepare for all types of customer scenarios on the floor and act accordingly and professionally.
Learn from Experiences
Being able to deal with difficult customers and handling their concerns is a strong test of empathy and professional service. Even when the customer is rather heated, you can exercise restraint and temper things for a peaceful resolution. Resolving customer conflict effectively helps build a strong and trusted band.