Customer Experience News & Trends

Turn your angry customers into loyal customers: 5 steps

It’s important for short-term customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty that your employees handle irate customers delicately and immediately. 

“If they can immediately de-escalate the situation, they can make customers happy again,” said Chad Carden, president of The Carden Group, when he spoke at the PACE National Convention and Expo.

To do that, Carden offered these proactive steps your employees should take:

1. Say this …

When employees find themselves in a conversation with a customer who is cranky or outright irate, they want to try one of these three phrases, which immediately help de-escalate the situation because they’re putting the focus on customers and their plight.

  • Tell me more about …
  • Please explain …
  • Help me understand …

Then employees want to be quiet. Allow customers time to explain the facts and their feelings about them.

2. Restate

Once upset customers have finished their stories, employees want to confirm they understand the stated problem — so then they’re both working toward a solution to the common issue.

A few things to say:

  • So what you’re saying is …
  • The way I understand it is … Is that right?
  • I understand your biggest concern is …

3. Draw out more

Many customers talk about the most pressing issue at hand. But many of them won’t bring up underlying issues that might have led them to the current situation. Or, they may not be fully aware of other things that are bothering them.

That’s why employees want to try to uncover underlying or subconscious problems.

Before charging ahead toward resolutions, ask:

  • Is there anything else you want to talk about?
  • Is there something else that might have contributed to our current situation?

4. Isolate the problem

When everything is on the table, it’s easier for front-line service pros to isolate the biggest issue.

For instance, if an irate customer complains about a poor delivery experience, an underlying issue might be that they were told to expect two-day, white-glove delivery only to have it left on their porch three days later. The underlying problem is an expectation-realization gap that needs to be addressed, too.

5. Solve the issues

Isolating the biggest issue allows service pros to solve that first, which should almost always fix the smaller problems that customers first identified.

Before ending the contact, service pros want to review with customers:

  • the issues they identified to be resolved
  • how they were resolved
  • the new outcome (and whether it was satisfactory), and
  • how they’ll follow up on the situation.

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