Customer Experience News & Trends

5 ways to handle an argument with a customer

An argument with a customer will almost always destroy the experience – that is unless you handle it so the customer doesn’t even realize you are arguing. Here’s how.

Surely, customer-facing employees never go into a situation with the intention to argue. But sometimes customers come in with their gloves on.

Being fair and tactful when faced with those circumstances is the only way the experience can be salvaged, according to the communication experts at Manage Elite.

No fisticuffs

When a customer is hell-bent on arguing, here are the keys to handling the situation so it ends well:

  1. Go to the middle. Find one thing to agree on to stop the butting of heads immediately. It can be a statement of fact, such as a date, time or place that something happened. Say, “We agree that …” to set the stage for more agreement.
  2. Maintain composure. No matter how rough the customer gets, it’s important to be polite and stay polite throughout the conversation. Being cordial helps you gain respect, and angry customers often end up mirroring the behavior,
  3. Keep your cool. Avoid getting louder — even as customers raise their voices. A calm, even tone often gets more attention than a raised one. Try repeating your point with slightly different wording to get it across rather than trying to be the loudest speaker.
  4. Avoid button-pushing. You likely know what you can say that will put a customer in his or her place, or cause the person to erupt more. Avoid the temptation to make “I know I’m right and you’re wrong” statements. On the flip side, don’t take customers’ bait. Ignore catty statements directed at you personally, and refer back to the issue.
  5. Move on. It doesn’t matter who was wrong or right, or whose point was best. Even if customers were wrong, don’t ask them or expect them to apologize. Instead, move forward so the relationship is on stable ground again.

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