5 Steps for Handling Angry Customers
Customer service can be one of the most rewarding aspects of running a business — except when you’re delt an irate patron or client. So what can be done to handle this dilemma? Hawaii Business checked with Honolulu-based business consultant Jesse James who provided some tips for diffusing such a situation.
Begin by treating a difficult customer as you would want to be treated in a similar situation. Remembering how you have felt in negative sales or service situations can help you focus on the objective of solving your customer’s problem appropriately.
Listen carefully to what the customer is saying and acknowledge an understanding of what is bothering him. Anger comes from not getting what we want; therefore, it is imperative that we get to the source of the customer’s anger in order to diffuse it. You want as much steam to escape from the pot before lifting the lid.
Repeat what the customer is saying back to her in your own words to make certain that you understand the problem correctly. Begin with “If I understand you correctly” or “So, what you are saying is.” This helps the customer to feel appreciated and also builds rapport and trust. A customer may answer by saying, “No, that’s not what I’m saying.” This is the other benefit to paraphrasing: It helps to confirm whether or not you understand the real problem at hand and gets you back on track to solving it.
Once you are certain that you understand the source of the customer’s dissatisfaction, you can then respond by explaining how you will attempt to solve their problem. Be prepared to do whatever it takes to reach the goal of complete customer satisfaction, including suggesting a few alternatives.
After you have responded, recheck with the customer by asking, “Does that resolve this issue for you?” If not, then repeat the process from step two until the customer is satisfied. Whether you are successful or not in completely resolving the issue, offer the customer a perk such as a discount or gift certificate the next time he returns.
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