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How To Deal With Unhappy Customers

Dealing With Unhappy Customers

Unfortunately, in any business we are, at some point, going to have to deal with an unhappy customer or two.  This could have very little to do with your business, we have all had a bad day and taken it out on someone! However, it is still important to know how to deal with them effectively.

Here are some tips:

1. Remain Calm

This could possibly be the most important thing to remember, but certainly not the easiest.  It’s hard not to take it personally if a customer starts shouting at you or sends you an irate email.  Instinct is to get defensive, you could yourself start to feel angry or even upset.  This is the hardest part – take a moment to breathe and really listen to what the customer is saying. Remember everyone is human and the customer is frustrated with something, it’s not personal and we have all felt angry at someone who wasn’t personally responsible for our feelings.

If the customer does get rude or aggressive, this is not ok, you don’t have to tolerate that sort of behaviour.

2. Use Active Listening

It’s vital to pay close attention to the words the customer is actually saying.  If the customer is in front of you it’s important to look at non-verbal clues too.  Use open body language, face the customer, and give eye contact but not overly direct as this could come across as aggressive.  If you listen fully to what the customer is saying it should be easier to resolve the issue.  It can be helpful to use the customers’ language, for example, if they say they are surprised by how the product failed so soon, saying something like ‘That is surprising! Let’s investigate what’s happened.’ This acknowledges the customer’s feelings but hopefully won’t escalate their emotions.

3. Paraphrase Back to the Customer

A key part of active listening is making sure you and the customer are on the same page. Paraphrasing is repeating back to the customer what you believe the problem to be to ensure you understand.  If you don’t understand it’s important to get clarity, as this will cause more anger further down the line.  Be sure to let the customer know you understand why they are upset.

4. Thank Them

Thank the customer for bringing the problem to your attention.  A simple thank you can help build rapport with the customer.  Thanking a customer throughout your dealings with them is easy and really helps.

5. Explain What you Will do to Address the Problem

Clearly explain to the customer what you will do to start addressing their concern. This could be something simple that you can do straight away or it could be a lengthier process.  Whatever it is be sure to tell them what you intend to do.  Ensure that whatever it is you have said you will do, you do.  There is little more that will get someone annoyed than not doing what you have said you will do.  That is a sure-fire way to escalate the problem again.

6. Be Genuine and Honest

As well as remaining calm it is just as important to be genuine, sincere and honest.  People can tell when they are being patronised or lied to, don’t talk down to customers and be honest even if that means you don’t know how to solve their problem just yet.

7. Make The Customer Feel Important

Customers can often feel frustrated if they are made to feel like their concern isn’t important to your company.  This can be especially prevalent with large organisations that deal with lots of customer enquiries daily.

It is important to ensure the customer doesn’t feel like this and knows exactly what you are doing to sort out the issue because they are important to you and the company as a whole.

No company is exempt from having to deal with unhappy customers, but allowing your customers to be heard and understood can increase brand loyalty and positive feedback.

By following these tips you can defuse situations quickly and effectively.


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