To start, it’s helpful to recognize that unhappy customers will often want to vent their frustrations and just know someone is listening. Let them have their say without interruption. Asking questions or attempting to argue will only make them angrier. Pay attention and take notes as they explain their problem so you can refer to them throughout the discussion. This will assure them that they have been heard and their concerns are being taken seriously. Repeat the problem back to them so they can feel confident their complaints are understood. If they have expressed a desired resolution, make it clear that it’s been noted and any possible steps will be taken to realize it. This not only shows the customer his or her grievances are being taken seriously, but also that everyone is on the same page.
Finding a solution to the customer’s problem is going to be the key to calming them down. If there is a simple resolution to the issue, explain it and get started working on it. However, in many cases determining an acceptable solution will present more of a challenge. If fixing the problem is against policy, or if there is no policy yet in place for it, avoid explicitly stating this. This will merely produce more frustration and possibly undo the progress made thus far. Instead, let them know a manger will personally be attending to the issue to ensure the situation is properly resolved. No matter what, don’t make excuses for the company or the product. Customers don’t want excuses, they want a solution and it’s the job of customer service to provide them with it. It’s important to stay with the customer until the problem has been resolved so they don’t feel like they are being shuffled from person to person.
No matter how intense a customer gets, keep a calm and friendly tone. Speaking calmly can help keep tensions low on both sides while encouraging a clear explanation of the problem. If a customer yells, responding in a soft and reasonable tone will likely compel the customer to eventually lower his or her voice.
The most important thing to remember when dealing with unhappy customers is to not take it personally. They aren’t angry with any individual, but rather the issue they’re experiencing with the company or product. Taking their anger personally is likely to increase frustrations on both sides and escalate the problem.
Whenever possible, follow up with the customer once the issue has been resolved. This will offer the assurance that the company recognizes that solving a particular problem is only one aspect of the larger goal of customer service: keeping customers happy. A reminder that the company cares can often be the finishing touch to turn an unhappy customer into a loyal one.