How to Turn an Angry Customer Into a Loyal One

Road rage

By Mike Gorun

It’s one of those unfor­tu­nate, inevitable facts of life: every com­pa­ny and every employ­ee will at some point have to deal with an angry cus­tomer.

Whether their anger is war­rant­ed because of a bad sit­u­a­tion, or whether the cus­tomer is just plain dif­fi­cult, doesn’t mat­ter. These days, com­pa­nies must respond to and deal with angry cus­tomers. If they don’t, they risk those cus­tomers becom­ing brand detrac­tors, using social media to spread the word, start­ing boy­cotts or writ­ing neg­a­tive reviews.

Every employ­ee should be trained how to deal with angry cus­tomers. Employ­ees need to know that even if they are being insult­ed to their faces, they still need to make a gen­uine effort to regain that customer’s good­will.

Here are some steps that may help turn an angry cus­tomer into a loy­al one (or at least, not a detrac­tor):

1. Acknowl­edge the Anger. Anger trumps log­ic. Some­times, pre­sent­ing a cus­tomer with the facts isn’t enough. Anger is a pow­er­ful emo­tion that stems from the fact the cus­tomer felt some­thing very neg­a­tive. It’s up to you to find out what the root cause of their anger is, and it may have lit­tle to do with the alleged inci­dent or accu­sa­tion. Is the cus­tomer real­ly angry because they were over­charged, or did they feel like their com­plaint was ignored?

2. Dif­fuse the Anger. The next step in deal­ing with an angry cus­tomer is to dif­fuse their anger. This is eas­i­er said than done. Some­times, peo­ple need time to vent. That’s fine. Be patient while they do so. The key to mak­ing this hap­pen is to lis­ten to emo­tion with­out get­ting emo­tion­al. Don’t start fling­ing angry com­ments back. Be patient, speak soft­ly and in a steady tone, and state back to the cus­tomer what you believe their prob­lems and con­cerns are.

3. Own the prob­lem. It doesn’t mat­ter if you cre­at­ed the prob­lem or not. An angry cus­tomer doesn’t want to hear it wasn’t your fault or that you’re just the mes­sen­ger and there’s noth­ing you can do about it. Employ­ees should be trained that an angry cus­tomer is a top pri­or­i­ty and should be tak­en care of. Even if they tru­ly don’t have the pow­er to fix the issue, they should take charge by tak­ing the issue to the man­agers that do have the pow­er. How­ev­er, that’s no excuse for hand­ing the cus­tomer and their prob­lem over and for­get­ting about it. Own­ing the prob­lem means mak­ing sure the issue is being tak­en care of, no mat­ter who else is han­dling it.

4. Resolve the Issue. Once the issue is resolved, inform the cus­tomer that this spe­cif­ic prob­lem is resolved and is not expect­ed to reoc­cur. Demon­strate your con­fi­dence by reit­er­at­ing the customer’s orig­i­nal con­cerns and actions that you took to cor­rect the issue. If more than one cus­tomer gets angry about an issue, there may be some long-term changes with­in your orga­ni­za­tion that need to take place. If you iden­ti­fy a prob­lem with anoth­er employ­ee, or with some poli­cies in the work­place, then take your con­cerns to your man­ag­er with the com­plaints and some sug­ges­tions for nec­es­sary changes.

5. Fol­low Up.  After a few days and then again after a few weeks, fol­low up with the cus­tomer to inquire whether the cor­rec­tive action was effec­tive. A phone call or per­son­al­ized e-mail demon­strates com­pas­sion and atten­tive­ness, and sends a pow­er­ful mes­sage that your com­pa­ny cares about their indi­vid­ual cus­tomers. This type of fol­low-up may be enough to turn a now-neu­tral cus­tomer into a loy­al cus­tomer, and may even earn you a few new cus­tomers!

Mike Gorun is a Man­ag­ing Part­ner at Medi­a­Trac and can be reached through his con­tact page.




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