How to Handle Unhappy Customers

Dealing with an unhappy or angry customer is not easy. If you don’t know what to say or how to say it, you might not only lose the customer, but also your reputation. However, if the situation is handled properly, you could end up winning back your client. The following are some tips for handling difficult or angry customers:

1. Practice active listening

When a customer is upset, they just want their grievances to be heard. Therefore, it is important to apply active listening skills. Begin the conversation with a statement like ‘Please tell me why you are angry’ or ‘Let us go over the incident’. This shows the customer that you are ready to listen. Give the customer all your attention as they narrate their story. Avoid the temptation of trying to draw conclusions on the matter before getting the full information.

2. Repeat their concerns

After the customer has explained why he is unhappy, repeat his concerns to him in your own words. If necessary, ask questions to ascertain anything that was not clear. Be sure to use objective and calm words. For instance, ‘In my understanding, you are upset because our shipment arrived later than we promised’. When customers know that you are listening, their anger level is likely to subside.

3. Offer an apology

Once your customer’s grievances are clear, show some empathy and apologize. Say something like ‘You are quite justified to be angry. I’m very sorry that we failed to deliver the goods within the required time. I regret any inconveniences caused’. Besides verbalizing your apology, you need to ensure that your body language also conveys your sentiments.

4. Present a solution

After apologizing, you should then be ready to offer a solution. This can be done in two ways. First, if you know what will placate the customer, you can offer your proposal for resolving the issue. For instance, you could say, ‘I’ll take it upon myself to ensure that your shipments arrive on time in future. As a sign of good faith, we shall give you a 20% discount on your next purchase’. However, if you are not sure what would make the client happy, give them the opportunity to say what they want.

5. Take action

Once you have agreed on the way forward, take action right away to resolve the issue. Check with your customer later to find out if they are content with the resolution. Where possible, do much more than you had promised. For example, you could send complimentary tickets to an industry event.

6. Make use of the feedback

Find out how you can lower the chances of a similar incident happening in future. Be sure to get to the root of the problem. Was someone in your team slow in doing their job or was the problem external? Once you have identified the problem, make sure it is dealt with right away.

You need to learn how to deal with difficult customers professionally. Talking slowly and calmly will enable you to lower the tension. If the customer makes their grievances over the phone or through email, offer to meet them in person to resolve the issue.


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