I don’t know about you, but I find there’s a lot of truly bad customers out there. The quest to fix angry customers that waste time complaining about stupid stuff like slightly late deliveries, deadlines that were a day or two over the limit, or ones that were too dumb to read your ToS that states “no refunds” before ordering your super-awesome product they’ve now decided they don’t want.
Angry customers are a real drag. I, in my infinite wisdom, realise it isn’t your fault. But, there are a few things you can do to turn their miserable frowns upside down. Sometimes, you just have to be the bigger person and put their immediate needs before your own.
Here’s a few tips to get these ticked off monkeys out of your hair, and maybe even get them to spend a few more bucks and recommend you to a friend or two:
Ask them to tell you WHY.
You really need to brace yourself here. The key is to ask WHY they’re mad in as genuine a way possible. Then really listen to what they’re saying while pretending to care. Don’t rush them or interrupt their whiny diatribe.
Learning why they’re truly mad will allow you to not just fix whatever is wrong with the person speaking, but you’ll be able to implement measures such as product or service-related changes in order to avoid similar problems down the line. Be their psychiatrist for a while — it won’t kill you!
Empathise — no matter how ridiculous their complaint is.
Brace yourself once more — we’ve all had to empathise and really pretend we mean it when confronted by a problem. Consider when your parents got you into trouble for sneaking out and/or or drinking for the first time as a teenager. Defiance, most of us learned early, only leads to a worse punishment and having to listen to them drone on about the problem for even longer.
The same is true when trying to fix angry customers. If you don’t put on the illusion you care — that you 100% understand what has their bee in a bonnet — they’ll just continue berating you, and telling them to take it easy never works. Listen, then empathise, telling them in your most genuine tone that you understand how frustrating it can be when a delivery is delayed or a product arrives broken (even though they likely broke the darned thing themselves!) It’s shocking how well this simple tactic can quell a negative conversation.
“Admit” the problem’s all your fault.
Take three solid breaths and get ready for the hardest line of bull you’ve ever had to deliver! Here they’ve gone and screwed up your day and are likely demanding you spend your precious time and/or money to fix whatever’s made them feel so miserable. Now, this entirely deplorable soul expects YOU to apologise for something that’s likely entirely in their head.
Much like we all have to take fault for something WE did to offend our unreasonable spouse at some point, so to must a business do so to placate unnecessarily angry customers by apologising for something that person has brought upon themselves. Say, with the utmost confidence “Hey, this is all our fault. What can I do to fix this for you?”
Do whatever it takes to fix the problem.
I know this is gonna tear out a tiny piece of your soul each and every time it needs to be done. I’m sorry for your loss. However, despite the fact that they’re the problem here, the angry customer standing before you or on the other end of the phone can cause a lot of problems for you — with their friends and on social media. Back in the day, you could easily “fire” a customer and be done with them, even if you knew they could make you money down the line. “Good riddance” I would have said at the time!
A pre-Internet company could even accept that the “fired” customer would have a bunch of friends and family they’d tell to stay away from your business – not such a big loss, right? After all, pride is important too. Now, with social media and the current SJW movement, even a lonely customer without friends is still likely to have access to thousands of your future customers on their social media accounts, who’re ready to mount an attack against you with little provocation. It’s just not worth poisoning the waters — give them what they want (within reason) and move forward with the business relatively unscathed.
Angry customers suck, but if you do as I’ve suggested, you can avoid them pestering you non-stop over emails and phone calls, and hopefully prevent them from giving you a bad name on social media.
This is how smart business is done.
Sometimes, you just have to be the bigger person and come down to their level!
Main Image Credit: Nathan/Flickr