Often, difficult or even angry customers aren't expressing frustration with you. These emotions are tied to external situations and psychological stimuli. So, put your great communication skills to work, draw on your superpower of reading the situation, and use these seven psychological tips for managing difficult customers to save your customer from churning.
How to Deal with Angry Customers
1. Remain calm
Take a second to breathe and process what your customer is actually saying. In most cases, you'll hear between the angry words that the customer is struggling or frustrated with your product or service, to the point where they have to take it out on somebody. Understand that everyone is human and experiences moments of weakness, and don't take their anger personally or hold it against them.
That said, if a customer is so angry they're being rude, abusive, or aggressive in tone or language, you don't have to tolerate that behavior. If at any point in a customer conversation, feel free to escalate it to your manager for additional support.
2. Practice active listening
Pay close attention to the words the customer is saying, instead of focusing on the anger behind the words.
By actively listening, you'll be able to figure out what's making the customer so angry and how to resolve the issue, instead of simply trying to comfort them and de-escalate the interaction. You'll be able to solve their problem and make them satisfied again sooner by paying close attention to the angry words so you can respond as quickly as possible.
3. Repeat back what your customers say
A key part of active listening is making sure you and the customer are on the same page. So once you've determined the root cause of the anger, repeat back to the customer what you're hearing to make sure you understand each other, and to let the customer know that their concerns have been heard and will be responded to.
4. Thank them for bringing the issue to your attention
When your customer sounds angry and negative about a situation, thanking them for voicing their concern to you can go a long way toward building rapport with them. A simple thank-you to acknowledge their time and patience as you work to solve the issue will suffice.
5. Explain the steps you'll take to solve the problem
Make it clear to the customer what you'll do to get started addressing their concern. Whether it's something simple you can do over the phone, or if you'll need to go through a process with them, spell out your next moves so the customer feels heard and at ease.
6. Remember, anger is natural
Ever throw out a price or time investment required, and watch your customer become frustrated, maybe even angry, at how high it is? Or maybe you've been on the other side. A customer tells you how much they want to pay for your new product upgrade, and it's so low it makes you mad.
The Recalibration Theory of Anger says this emotion is naturally wired into humans. In short, anger is our evolutionary way of bargaining. We furrow our brows, press our lips together, and flare our nostrils in to drive our "opponent" to place a higher value on what we have to offer.
7. Keep calm and carry on
Conflict is a part of business. How you react under fire impacts the future of your customer relationships.
The adage, "The customer is always right" still rings true. You have far more to lose by taking the low road and stooping to a customer's level of hostility.
Treating someone with disdain or disrespect can reflect negatively on you and your company, so reputation management should always be top of mind.
Remember, people will often mirror the emotional signals you emit. If you respond with hostility and anger, don't expect friendliness and understanding in return.
8. Use your support resources
My colleague, Clint Fontanella, likes to call these "the weapons in your customer support arsenal." These are the tricks you can use during a call, chat, or in-person interaction to deal with a difficult customer.
While they should be used on a case-by-case basis, here are a few resources your reps should learn to master.
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