Isn’t that something that we always tell ourselves through gritted teeth each time a customer is being especially demanding or difficult? As an employee, it is our job to make them happy (and prevent them from coming back and complaining again). There are just some people that get a kick out of coming back into your store or office and creating a mountain out of a molehill.
What is even worse is when there are other customers around to watch and observe the fiasco; and the last thing you want while getting attacked by a customer is having an audience too.
First things first, keep your cool. As much as you want to lunge at the customer with your claws out, that will instantly scare off all your customers from ever stepping foot in your store again, and you’ll gain nothing but a lawsuit. So calm down! Never raise your voice to their level, or use the same angry or sarcastic tone, which will only fuel the flames. Instead of seeing them as an angry adult, imagine yourself talking to a child throwing a tantrum (but don’t tell them that, of course!).
This angry customer is just a fussy child that wants you to listen and take care of them. In most cases, the angers stems from the frustration of not being heard. This should change your mindset from “Ugh, this person is nuts!” to “Aww, he is upset. What can I do to help?” Even if they shout mean and ugly things to you, don’t take it personally. When you are angry, you kind of lose all logic and exaggerate things; so just let the insults just bounce off you.
It is important to let the customer know that you are here to help. Just saying that can lessen their stress by 90%. So show them you care. If possible, try to get them away from other people and tell them that you two can speak in private in a corner, or in a separate room. Reassure them with:
- I’m sorry you are feeling this way. What I can do to help you?
- I completely understand your situation. We are doing our best to fix it for you.
- Thank you for your patience. We will try to resolve this for you as quickly as possible.
Give them a chance to vent. Even jot down some notes so that you can remember the facts clearly and show them that you are taking this problem seriously. At the end, repeat the situation back to them, saying “So the issue right now is that…is this correct?”
At this point, try not to focus on defending your company even if it wasn’t your fault. You don’t want to restart the fire again. Your customer doesn’t really care. He just wants the problem fixed. So reassure him that you or your manager will look into the problem right away. Be as detailed as you possibly can. Tell them who are the people that will be involved, what the procedure is, how long will it approximately take to be fixed.
Ideally, this can resolve the issue right then and there. However, there will be some irrationally angry people that are not willing to talk in a private room and would rather let it all out in the middle of the store. Here, you are going to have to professionally handle it in front of other people.
Don’t look around at other people’s reactions. This will only make you feel even more helpless, or the customer will feel your weakness and step up their anger even more. Place yourself in a confident stance: back straight and chin up. Even if you are just a regular or a new employee, think of yourself in a higher management position. Not so you can self-righteously tell the customer to beat it, but so you can naturally exude more professionalism and confidence. That renewed mindset will guide you with what to say and do with the customer.
Then, pray that everything will be smooth sailing from there. If not, you can always call security.
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