Whenever I conduct a webinar, speech or workshop, I am always asked the question: “What’s the best way to handle a customer who is really upset and demanding, especially when some of their demands seem totally unreasonable?”
I have found that acknowledging anger is a great first step. By saying to the customer, “I hear you are angry, but I want to help,” will instantly resonate that you are listening, understand and know they are upset, but you are there to resolve the issue. If, after the customer continues the story and you can find no practical resolution or one is not warranted, sometimes an about-face is in order. I have learned that asking what the customer would do in this particular situation if they managed or owned the business produces a concrete structure for negotiation. It may even provide various options not yet considered.
Additionally, calling a customer back a day or two after a problem has been resolved can go a long way to retain a patron whose loyalty towards your business has been negatively impacted even by a one-time event.
The word customer implies an ongoing relationship; in fact, by definition, a customer is one who returns. Too many businesses look at customer transactions in a vacuum instead of thinking about the lifetime value. Acknowledging past loyalty, especially to an angry customer, communicates appreciation and will pave the way to resolving any conflicts.
We are approaching “Customer Service Week,” recognizing all the people whose job is to provide service to the rest of us every day. There will always be issues and anger. In the spirit of thanking those who help, let’s pause and count to ten before yelling at the messenger.