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5 Customer Service Tips for Dealing with an Irate Customer

irate customerIt’s bound to happen. No matter how great your products and services, you’re not going to make everyone happy all of the time. Today’s pointers should help you deal with an irate customer and get resolution.

Whether you have just stepped into the Customer Service field or have been in it for years, everyone has experienced a call or two where the customer is beyond furious. Sometimes it is because of a company policy, sometimes because they have not received answers from your company and sometimes they are just having a bad day and the particular situation is the last straw for them. There are definitely ways to diffuse the situation, get to the root of the problem and find a resolution that suits the customer.

Tip #1   Listen to the Customer
Don’t interrupt the customer! Let them vent for as long as they need to, so they can explain what the situation is and why they are upset. Really listen to what they are saying and you may be surprised to discover the real reason behind their frustration. Make sure that you relay “process gaps” to the appropriate team in your company. Sometimes the company doesn’t know that there is a gap until a customer lets us know.

Tip #2   Apologize
Apologize on behalf of the company. Don’t use the words, “I’m sorry,” as they should only be used in personal situations. In the business world, saying something like, “I apologize for the inconvenience this situation has caused you,” or “I apologize for the situation,” is a crucial step to retaining a customer. Over the span of my 15-year career in customer support, one of the biggest complaints I have heard is, “They never once apologized.”

Tip #3   Ask the Customer What They Want
Instead of running through a list of options, ask the customer what you can do for them to resolve the issue. Very often this question can instantly calm the customer down. Allowing the customer to express their need gives them back the power they feel that they lost somewhere in the process. Based on your own company’s policies, you may not have the authority to grant this need, but you can then negotiate a reasonable solution for them based on their true need.

Tip #4   Be Flexible
Remember that not all situations have a one-size-fits-all solution. Be able to offer alternative solutions based on the customer’s individual needs. Sometimes the need is based around the timing of an event, so offering different shipping options can be a lifesaver for them. Other times the need is around the financial aspect of the purchase, so a discount on the original or future order is what would be most appreciated by the customer. Tailor the solution to the customer’s need.

Tip #5   Summarize the Resolution
After talking with the customer on their issue and coming to a resolution, it is just as important to verbalize the final resolution back to the customer. This confirms understanding by both parties and adds credibility to the conversation. If your system allows it, emailing the customer with your resolution agreement seals the deal. A follow-up call is always a good idea to show your customer that you truly care about them.

Remember that your customers ultimately control your growth or decline in business. The better you can service them, the more likely they will be loyal to you. Most customers are forgiving if you make a mistake, but they will quickly leave if you are not able to satisfactorily recover from that mistake.

Thank you for taking the time to read through the tips. I hope that they will be useful the next time you encounter a frustrated customer. If you have additional customer service tips that work well for you, please share them below, on our Facebook wall, Google+ page or tweet us. Together, we can all improve our customers’ experience.


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