It can be difficult to keep your cool when a customer is getting angry, and understandably so, nobody enjoys having a negative interaction with another person.
However, if you can manage it and resolve the customer’s issue for them, you will find that you score major points on the customer service front, and you’ll gain an enormous sense of personal satisfaction, too. Here are a few steps to help turn a negative customer interaction into a positive.
1. Remain calm
This is the most important step. It’s important that you remain calm, even if the customer is raising their voice at you. If you join in, this will only escalate the situation and won’t help to resolve anything.
2. Don’t take it personally
This is a crucial part of achieving step one! If a customer is angry, it’s important to remember that it isn’t you who they are angry with. They are unhappy because they have not received the level of service they expected or are disappointed with a product.
Try to bear this in mind when you are talking to them and empathize with their situation. This will help you to remain calm, which will help you to provide better service and will also mean that you don’t come away from the interaction feeling awful – nobody enjoys being angry!
3. Really listen
If a customer is getting angry or irritated, it’s likely that they feel that they haven’t been listened to in the past. It’s important that you concentrate on listening so that they feel heard and also so that you can be sure that you have all the information you need to resolve their issue.
Some things that can help you to become an active listener are:
- Pay attention. Really listen to what they are saying, rather than preparing your response in your mind.
- Show that you are listening. If you are in person, maintain eye contact and nod to show that you understand. Over the phone, you can use verbal cues like ‘uh-huh.’
- Provide feedback. Reiterate back to them what you think you have understood using phrases like ‘it sounds like you are saying,’ or ‘what I’m hearing is,’ and then check with them that you have understood correctly.
- Don’t interrupt. Save judgments and counter-arguments for later. All you are doing is understanding their point of view.
- Respond appropriately. Bearing in mind their experience, once they have finished speaking, you can formulate your response.
4. Apologize and thank them
Be sure to apologize for the negative experience that they have encountered, and thank them for bringing this issue to your attention. This helps your customer to see that you do care about the issue that they are having.
5. Explain what you will do to resolve the issue
Clarify to your customer what the next steps you will take are – even if that next step is to go away and speak to someone else for guidance before coming back to them.
A key part of customer communications is that your customer should know what is happening, so be sure to keep them in the loop.
6. Ensure action is taken and follow up
Whatever action you have told the customer will be taken, ensure that it is carried out. Additionally, if appropriate, be sure to follow up with them and keep them up to date.