5 Ways to Defuse an Angry Customer

Ring Central Blog


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2 min read

homersimpson As a business owner, you’ll almost certainly have to face an angry or irritated customer at one time or another.  Even when doing your best to please them or correct a situation that has gone awry, it can still be a stressful and frustrating situation for any business owner who values each and every customer.

It’s been well-documented that an unhappy customer is likely to tell between 10 and 20 people about their bad experience. The reality is that just one customer who is dissatisfied can have a profoundly negative effect on your business. While it’s virtually impossible to completely avoid having a customer who is unhappy about your business, there are definitely some strategic and powerful ways to defuse their anger and provide them with a satisfactory resolution that may keep them loyal to your business for years to come.

Respect Their Emotions but Don’t Get Emotional
When you’re passionate about your business, it can be difficult not to take it personally when a customer is less than happy. However, it’s necessary to keep your emotions in check and remember that their anger isn’t directed at you but rather at their particular situation.

The first step should always be to respect your customer’s frustration and listen carefully so that you understand how to begin responding to their emotional concerns. Remember, it’s not just about fixing the problem, it’s also about communicating that you understand how and why the problem is causing distress.

Be Patient
As a business owner, your first inclination may be to just correct the problem as quickly as you can, but your customer probably also wants to vent and be heard. Taking the time to let them express their feelings can often be the difference between a customer who stays loyal to your business and one who decides to go elsewhere. Sure, it’s an investment in time, but when you consider the consequences of having an angry customer who may very well tell 20 other people about his or her experience, it’s time well spent.

Reiterate All the Information
When emotions are running high, it can be hard to figure out exactly where the problem lies. This is why it’s vital to take careful notes when speaking to a customer with a complaint and reiterate the priorities as you hear them. In other words, ask questions, and listen carefully. This will enable you to prioritize what needs to be corrected and will help guide you towards an effective resolution.

Correct the Problem and the Bigger Issue
Is the problem that your customer experienced a one-time issue – or is it something bigger that requires rethinking processes and procedures? Once you’ve been able to help with the immediate needs of your customer, it may be time to look at what corrective measures can be taken to ensure that a similar situation doesn’t arise again. If something can be done, don’t forget to thank your customer for bringing the problem to your attention. They may have saved you from losing valuable business!

Follow Up
Once the problem has been resolved to your customer’s satisfaction, it’s always a nice touch to follow up with a phone call or letter that communicates how you have taken the necessary corrective action and lets the customer know that you value him/her as a customer. This follow-up can lead your customer to both remain loyal and tell others about your level of dedication.

Have an interesting story about how you handled a “challenging” customer? Share your story with us on our Facebook page!

Originally published Jul 30, 2010, updated Aug 31, 2020

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