Angry customers, we’ve all dealt with them and some of us have been them. Like most difficult situations, angry customers should be addressed with patience and empathy. Is it your fault that this person is angry or sad? Not likely. However, it is your job to fix it.
One of the biggest things to remember in this situation is nobody in the history of humans that have been told to calm down has. It’s not your job to tell someone to calm down. It’s your job to get them to calm down. It’s easy to get upset and offended at someone screaming their head off at you or blaming you for a situation you haven’t even gotten the background for yet. However, it’s important to not escalate with the customer.
Most of the time when a customer is steaming from both ears like a Hanna Barbera cartoon they’re looking for one thing from you, to take control. You may be the twelfth person this person has talked to and the eleven before you may have sent them in circles or royally screwed them over. It’s important to recognize why this customer is acting this way and to let them know that you plan on owning the issue they’re experiencing and see it to the end. This will make all the difference to this customer. Knowing you will have a direct point of contact and won’t have to go through the cliff notes of the last 12 calls you’ve made can truly turn the tide for the customer.
One of the hardest but most important things to remember when dealing with an angry customer is don’t take it personally. This person doesn’t know you personally so they can’t speak to any aspect of you personally. Any disrespectful words they may say to you are completely superficial and based on a very limited conversation you are having with them. If they are going low try to redirect to the problem that they’re having and how you are planning on solving it. Apologies also go a long way. Yes, you likely didn’t cause the problem they’re having personally but you can fix it.
Milan Bauder is one of the co-founders of the Chicago Customer Success Podcast. She is currently a Client Relationship Consultant at Capsim.