Seven Behaviors That Cause Problems With Angry Customers
Here are 7 common mistakes well-intentioned professionals make when it comes to dealing with unhappy customers. Learn exactly what not to do so that you’re well positioned to completely regain the goodwill of unhappy customers after any service mishap.
1. Telling the customer he or she is wrong. You will be smart to NEVER tell a customer they are wrong or mistaken. Telling a person they are wrong arouses opposition and will make the customer want to battle with you. (Ever tell your spouse they are wrong?) “It is difficult, under even the most benign conditions to change people’s minds.” So why make it harder by starting out on the wrong foot? If you know your customer is wrong, it’s better to start off saying something like, “I thought the contract read otherwise, but let’s take look.”
2. Arguing with a customer. You must realize you cannot win an argument with a customer. Certainly, you can prove your point and even have the last word. You may be right, but as far as changing your customer’s mind is concerned, you will probably be just as futile as if you were wrong. Your goal in complaint situations is to retain the customer, not to be right. If you win the argument, you may very well have lost the customer. Think carefully about the response you want to give and ask yourself, “Is my reaction one that will relieve the problem, or will it just relieve frustration? Will my reaction drive my customer further away? What price will I pay if “I” win the argument?” The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
3. Telling a customer to calm down. Certainly, there are times when a calm disposition would make every one’s life easier, but telling your customer to calm down is rarely effective. Like you, your customers don’t like to be told what to do. Try this approach instead: “Clearly you’re upset and I want you to know that getting to the bottom of this is just as important to me as it is to you.”
4. Failing to apologize to customers in the wake of problems. One of the easiest and quickest ways to diffuse anger, create rapport, and regain goodwill with unhappy customers is to apologize. Offering an apology to a customer who experiences a problem should be a natural response from customer service providers. Yet, recent research reveals the startling fact that 50% of customers who voice a complaint say they never received an apology.
Not only does an apology give “soft benefits” such as creating calm, shaving minutes off of talk time, less stress on the employee, etc., it can also translate into significant and measurable savings in reduced lawsuits, settlement costs, and defense costs.
An apology does not have to be an admission of fault. It can be offered to express regret. For example, “I’m so sorry for any inconvenience this misunderstanding has caused you.”
5. Escalating voice. Avoid the temptation to yell just because your customer is yelling. You don’t want to get caught up in their drama. Instead, remain centered and calm, relying on your ability to communicate with diplomacy and professionalism.
6. Not allowing the customer to vent. An angry customer can be compared to an erupting volcano. When a volcano is erupting, there is nothing you can do. You can’t tame it, can’t speed it up, and you can’t control it. It must erupt. But erupting volcanoes eventually subside. Your angry customer – who is intensely emotional – is the same way. He must erupt (that is…express his anger through venting). You can’t tame the customer, you must simply let him vent. After briefly venting, most angry customers will begin to calm down. Let your customers vent.
7. Proclaiming to the customer: “This is all I can do.” You are there to help. Give your customer options and look for every way you can help.
Put Your Angry Customer at Ease
Having to deal with angry and upset customers is by far one of the worst responsibilities we must face on a day to day basis in the world of sales and business.
However, this responsibility, like so many others we must face on a daily basis, just comes with the territory.
Customers become angry for all sorts of reasons. Some are legitimate reasons. Some are not. In any event it is our job to defuse the situation. Here are a few tips on how you can calm your customer down and put them at ease.
1. Give them your hand to shake
When I was in the banking industry, I worked many years as a branch manager. A customer’s body language would speak volumes as they approached my office. This body language allowed me to prepare for what was to come.
It is not difficult to tell when someone is angry. Their face scrunches. Their lips tighten, and their brow wrinkles. They walk quickly with a purpose in their step, and you know they mean business.
My reaction to this type of body language was to reach out my hand to them as an offering of peace. I did this before they had an opportunity to start venting their anger. I would then calmly introduce myself and ask how I could be of help to them.
This technique will catch your customer off guard, and your acts of professionalism and sincerity will ease the tension and put the rationale back into your customers thought process.
This technique is by far the best way to begin any conversation that has the potential to be blown out of proportion.
2. Apologize to your customer
Once you have your customer seated and have allowed for them to vent, the first thing you want to do is apologize on behalf of your company for the way they have made them feel, or for the inconvenience they have been put through.
It really doesn’t matter if your customer is right or wrong, by apologizing to your customer you are being empathetic to their situation. This gives the customer the feeling that you are on their side.
Remember, when a customer has an issue, what they want more than anything else is for someone to listen to their problem and have an understanding of where they are coming from.
There is absolutely no need to take a bad situation and make it worse.
3. Resolve the problem
The last and final thing you want to assure your customer is that the problem will be resolved, or at the very least, the problem will not happen again.
To leave a problem unresolved and your customer hanging will only lead to more confrontations and wasted time down the line.
Remember, when time is wasted, money is wasted.
Again, putting out fires on a daily basis comes with the territory. The sooner you put out the fires the better.
Never take a customer complaint personally. Act as your customers advocate, and you will always prevent a bad situation from escalating.
This article may be reproduced by anyone at any time, as long as the authors name and reference links are kept in tact and active.
Is The Customer Always Right?
Last week I made an early morning trip to a seminar/book promo breakfast to promote my web site. After putting out flyers all over the place I took a moment to step in to the facility and caught a few moments of a morning with Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE.
As I stepped through the door, a question and answer session was in progress. A woman stepped up to the microphone and asked “Is the customer always right?”
Jack smiled and said, “You might not think so, and they may believe so, but if you don’t make it so, you’re dead!”
Jack, that is a pretty strong consequence. Dead. But let’s face it. Who will come to do business with you again after you argue with them about their dissatisfaction? I think most people will just go somewhere else.
Isn’t is just common sense that we let our customer complain and then make it right? Well for the business owner, we usually just grin and say ” what would it take to make you happy today?” but what about our employees?
If we have not taken the time to train our employees how to deal with an unhappy customer, how will they react when one attacks them with ” the food was cold and tasted like crap!” or “I only had it for three days and the wheel fell off!”
It is important that as part of training any employee who has contact with the customer they have training on dealing with complaints as well as how to work the register or take the order. As a business owner you probably have already thought of that. Is there a piece of this puzzle missing?
The missing piece might be empowerment. The employee can be trained how to be calm and not take complaints personally. But what if they are not empowered to take action and correct the problem immediately themselves? What if you have instructed them to get you if there is a problem and you are on your way to the bank to make a deposit?
In most cases an angry consumer will not wait for you to return.
This would mean that if your employee is not empowered to make a correction or offer a compromise to make the customer happy, you would lose their business forever. How much does it cost to get a new customer? How much does it cost to make them happy when they are dissatisfied? The difference on paper is staggering.
Therefore, as part of the training of a new employee, it should be taught what is possible to do to make a customer happy when they are complaining. A quick response to a problem is appreciated almost more than the actual solution in most cases.
You see in life, we are all customers at some time or other, and I don’t know about you, but when I am an upset customer, I am always right!
Is Bad Customer Service Killing Your Business?
It’s time to beat the old bad customer service drum again. I know, I’m sick of beating the drum, too, but as long as bad customer service runs rampant through so many businesses I feel it is my entrepreneurial duty to bring it to your attention. So grab a pew and prepare to listen to the sermon I’ve preached before: bad customer service is the bane of business. If the Almighty smote down every business that dispenses bad customer service, the world would be a much friendlier, albeit much sparser place. Consider a world without malls and fast food joints… would it really be so bad?
What puzzles me most is if bad customer service is such a death knell for business, why do so many businesses allow it to go on? Don’t they read my column, for Pete’s sake? I think the problem is that most bad customer service is doled out (or at least condoned) by business owners and managers who have ceased caring what their customers think. When you stop caring what your customers think it’s time to close the doors. Go find a day job. You’ll make someone a wonderfully disgruntled employee.
My latest parable of lousy customer service was actually experienced by my better half while attempting to buy my daughter a pair of basketball shoes. I won’t mention the name of the sporting goods chain store in which the bad customer service took place, but I will tell you that its name is similar to the sound a frog with hiccups might make.
As my wife waited for someone to assit, the four or five teenagers who had been charged with manning the store stood in a clump at the cash register giggling and flirting with one another as if they were at the prom instead of at work.
When my wife pointed out this fact, one of the employees, a cheeky lass of 16 or so, put her hands on her hips and said, “How rude!” The males in the group didn’t react at all. They were too busy arguing over who could take a break so they could chase other cheeky lasses about the mall.
Needless to say my lovely bride, who has the ability to instill fear into the hearts of even the most worthless employees, left the gaggle of giggling teen idiots standing with their mouths open in disbelief. How dare a customer tell them to do that with a pair of basketball shoes?
As much as I bemoan bad customer service I celebrate good customer service. It should be applauded and the purveyor of said good customer service should be rewarded for actually delivering satisfaction to the customer, above and beyond the call of duty.
So let me tell you the story of my new hero, Ken. I won’t tell you the name of the store in which Ken works, but let’s just say they started out selling radios in a shack somewhere long, long ago.
I first met Ken when I went into the store to buy a mixing board for my business that records audio products for the Web. In a nutshell, you plug microphones into the mixing board then connect it to the computer and you can record audio directly to digital format. Totally beside the point of this article, but I didn’t want you thinking that I was purchasing non-manly cooking utensils.
When I got the mixer installed it didn’t work. So I boxed it up and headed back to the store to return it. When I told Ken my problem he didn’t just grunt and give me my money back as so many bad customer service reps would do. Instead he asked, “Do you mind if I try it?”
“Knock yourself out,” was my reply, confident that if I couldn’t get it to work, neither could Ken. Ken took the mixer out of the box and went about hooking it up to one of the computers on display. He started pulling power cords and cables off the display racks and ripping them open and plugging them in. He tore open a new microphone and an adapter and kept going until he had the mixer hooked up and working. Yes, I said working. It turns out the mixer was fine. I just had the wrong power adapter.
Ken could have just given me my money back and been done with me. Instead he spent 15 minutes and opened a number of other packages that I was under no obligation to buy just to help me get the thing working.
I was so impressed that I not only kept the mixing board, I also bought another $50 worth of products. And the next time I need anything electronic guess where I will buy it? Even if it costs twice as much, I’ll buy it from Ken.
Now here’s the moral of the story: if you are a business owner who has a gaggle of teenagers in charge of customer service at your store you would be better off replacing them with wild monkeys.
At least monkeys can be trained.