Everyone in customer service has to deal with angry customers from time to time, especially around peak seasons or when sales are live. Customers can get rude and sometimes a little too personal, but as a customer service agent, how do you deal with someone who is unhappy and can potentially tarnish the business brand by leaving a bad review online? Every situation is different and no two cases are the same, but there are a few tricks in the book that can assist with managing an unhappy customer.
Remain calm and neutral
One of the best ways to maintain your professionalism is to stay calm when a customer is ranting at you. Regardless of the platform you may be using, whether it’s over the phone, via email or even through the best live chat system, you need to remain calm. Take deep breaths when dealing with more explosive customers, and if you feel overwhelmed, follow your protocol of escalating their case.
Identify why the customer is angry
The customer is angry because their experience with the business was far from their pre-conceived expectations. Once you can identify exactly what they are upset about, then you can start working on finding a solution. Ask the customer what they feel should be done to rectify the situation in their eyes. If the customer’s suggestion is unrealistic, and explain why it is, and how best you can meet them halfway. This allows the customer to maintain their feeling of power, while you gain an understanding as to how badly the situation may or may not have affected them.
Sympathise and apologise
The key to great customer service is being able to listen to an angry customer and not lose your cool, even if you’re speaking to them through the best live chat system. Being understanding validates to them that you know how the customer feels and where they are coming from. This goes a long way in terms of smoothing things over. Apologise sympathetically for their negative experience, whether or not the complaint is legitimate. By telling the customer something like, “I’m sorry you’re not happy. Let’s see what we can do to make things right,” it starts the solution process, thus calming the customer.
Listen carefully and find a solution
When a customer is upset, you need to just listen. Listening patiently and making sure the customer feels acknowledged can diffuse the situation and turn a negative into a positive. Try to understand where their experience started breaking down and make small notes to find a solution. When they are finished speaking, summarise what you’ve heard and ask them questions to clarify their complaint. Start brainstorming a solution with them that is within your scope. Put forward your own fair and realistic solution and work with them from there.
It’s not personal
Above all else, don’t take it personally. The customer is not angry with you, and they need to voice their complaint to someone; unfortunately, that someone is you. Don’t let it get under your skin and don’t let the stress linger as it will affect the rest of your day. Take a short break for a few minutes after to relax and unwind, to prepare yourself for the next customer engagement.
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