Customer Experience News & Trends

3 ways to deal with irate customers

When customers take out every bit of anger on you, the temptation might be to fire back. Bad move. Here’s what you want to do:

As a front-line customer care professional, you have to stay calm, and — most importantly — help angry customers move beyond their tyrannical moments.

Respond or move on

This three-step approach from the authors of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Dealing With Difficult Employees can do the trick:

  1. Pump the brakes. Angry customers’ rate, tone and volume of speech will likely be fast and furious. They need help to slow down. When you can get in a word, make a dramatic pause and say something such as, “Let’s slow down here a minute,” or “We’d be better off if we stop at this point and readjust how we’re handling this.” You want to avoid saying the customer is out of control. Your calm tone and rationale will help the customer realize he or she is not in a good place.
  2. Listen and paraphrase. Suggest the customer take a minute to regain his or her train of thought and talk about one key issue that needs to be resolved first. Then let him or her know you’re ready to listen. Say, “I want to make sure I have the facts straight, so I’m ready to take notes.” When the customer is done talking — and you’ve taken notes without thinking of or planning what your response will be — paraphrase what was said. Then figure out your response.
  3. Respond or ask for a timeout. Offer your solution, and if the customer continues to be angry and the conversation doesn’t move forward, back off. Suggest you talk another time and schedule it. You might say, “Look, we’re not getting anywhere right now. Why don’t we talk a little later when we can discuss this with clear heads?”

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