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12 Invaluable Tips When Dealing with Upset Customers

Written by: Christina Merhar
March 17, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Deal with Upset Customers

A customer calls in upset over your product or service. They’re angry. They want the issue resolved. They want to speak with a manager… immediately.

Whether you’re a small business owner, a manager, or an advisor, there comes a time when you have to deal with upset customers. Regardless of how the problem originated, how you deal with these challenging situations says a lot about your small business.

So, how do you deal with upset customers the right way? Here are 12 invaluable tips.

How to Deal with Upset Customers

1. Remain Calm

When dealing with an upset customer, don’t become emotional. Stay calm and never argue back.

2. Don’t Take it Personally

Likely, what the customer is upset about is not your fault. Don’t take it personally. Rather, empathize and think of it like a puzzle you have to solve.

3. Use Active Listening

Listen to the customer to truly understand what they are upset about, and what the root cause is. Ask follow up questions and repeat back to the customer what you understand the problem to be.

See Related: How to Handle Workplace Conflict: The Do’s and Don’ts

4. Use the Customer’s Name

It sounds simple, but using a person’s name helps build rapport. It demonstrates that you’re listening.

5. Sympathize

Be sympathetic to your customer's situation by being kind, patient, and genuine.

6. Smile When You Talk

As you talk to the upset customer, smile. Yes, even over the phone. In fact, especially over the phone. It makes your tone of voice friendly and confident.

7. Apologize Appropriately

Always apologize to the upset customer. However, make sure you know what you are apologizing for. Understand their grievance, then apologize for negative experience they are having.

8. Be Honest and Transparent

As you sympathize and apologize, never over promise or lie about what you can or cannot do. Be honest and transparent about the problem and how you can help.

9. Offer a Solution

Always offer a solution to the problem. Even if you can’t fix the exact issue, you can offer a next step toward the solution - such as calling them personally when the issue is resolved. Stumped what the solution is? Ask them how they would like to see the problem resolved.

See Related: 5 Productivity Hacks for You and Your Small Business

10. Use Positive Language

One of the most powerful ways to deal with upset customers is using positive language. Instead of saying, “We don’t have that software feature. I don’t know when it will be available.” Try, “Currently, our IT department is working on that feature. The release date is unknown but I will personally call you when it is available.”

For more examples of how positive language can be so powerful, see this Help Scout article.

11. Take Action and Follow Up

When dealing with upset customers, it is very important to follow through on what you say you will do. . For example, if you tell your customer you need to speak with a colleague for help resolving the problem, be timely about calling them back. Be the customer’s champion, and they’ll be a customer for life.

12. Use Feedback to Improve

Lastly, learn from the situation. Use the challenging situation to understand the root of the problem and fix it to prevent it from happening again.

See Related: Need New Customers? Try These Amazing Life Hacks

What tips on dealing with upset customers are we missing? Leave a comment.

Topics: Small Business, Human Resources

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