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Angry Customers and How to Handle Them

Complaints come in all forms – be prepared to resolve them all.

Handling complaints is an essential part of the customer service role. It’s also an opportunity to right a wrong and improve a customer’s experience with the company. The goal of these interactions is for a customer that approached with a complaint to leave feeling satisfied.

But every customer will have different needs. Customers with complaints can be broken down into a few basic categories that will inform you on how to better help them. Understand what went wrong, and make it better.

Assess the source of the issue

Handling complaints isn’t just about satiating an upset customer and getting them to go away as soon as possible. More often than not, customer complaints stem from a real issue that could use fixing.

Attentively listening to what a customer has to say will make them feel more cared for, and it could help prevent other customers from suffering a similar issue going forward.

Common complaints include long wait times, unsupportive customer service agents, and misleading information or surprise fees.

Customer service agents should focus on staying calm and de-escalating. Being patient and empathetic towards unhappy customers can avoid making the situation worse.

Figure out who you’re dealing with.

Having a better understanding of the customer as an individual, and where they’re coming from, can be helpful to a customer service representative in finding the best solution.

And while everyone has individual needs, unhappy customers can usually be split into different categories that will indicate how to best assist them.

The impatient

Impatient customers will likely be the most common to deal with. Patrons expect to be able to do their business without any hurdles, and to be slowed by complications will likely lead to frustration pretty quickly.

It’s always good practice to try to resolve complaints as efficiently as possible. With these types of customers, it’s especially important to remain level and make it right for them as soon as possible.

The habitual complainer

It seems to happen to every business as it grows: There will be one customer who is simply never happy.

Sometimes, this can mean reliable insight into new issues that come up and can be permanently resolved before their impact grows. Other times, there’s really nothing that will keep this customer happy.

Customer service representatives would do well to pay attention to when the same problem is occurring again and again.

The bully

This can be the most stressful type of customer to deal with. Bullies aren’t afraid to get in an employee’s face and use intimidation to get what they want.

Being logical with this sort of customer may not work, but getting emotional will make the situation worse by potentially escalating it.

Instead, customer service representatives should try their best to remain calm and stick to the script. React as though you are dealing with any other customer. The angry customer may have a hard time staying angry with someone who is patient and undisturbed.

The penny pincher

Some customers make it their mission when shopping to save as much as possible. Employees should make sure they’re adhering to their company’s policies when applying coupons and discounts.

Sometimes, this can escalate to theft. Representatives should be on the lookout for customers who repeatedly attempt to make big returns without evidence of purchase.

Know when to draw the line. Doing right by the customer is the priority of customer service, but it doesn’t always mean giving the customer exactly what they want. Non-management employees should always involve managers for suspicious transactions.

Make it right

Handling customer complaints involves different steps towards the same goal: making it right for the customer.

Being familiar with the company’s return policies and procedures is vital. Resolving the source of the complaint as quickly as possible will avoid further upset.

It’s also important to pay attention to trends. Has the issue at hand happened to the same customer or other customers before?

Complaints can provide key insight into where the business needs improvement. Taking the next step can look like hiring new employees and training current ones to prevent common failures.

Customer complaints shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all. In fact, they’re a great opportunity to win a customer back and improve the experience for customers in the future.