We all deal with angry customers, and it's
enough to drive people up the wall. Angry
and difficult customers are a major cause of
workplace stress, and they eat up huge
amounts of your time and the resources of
your organization. There are a lot of tricks
and techniques you can use to deal with an
angry customer, and we'll cover a number of
them in future editions of the Help @
Work Customer Service File. For now,
let's focus on the most common mistake
employees make when dealing with the
hostile, difficult or angry customer. By
avoiding this particular error, you can save
yourself a lot of stress and time.
When you are faced with
an angry customer, you probably assume that
the customer wants his or her "problem"
fixed. That's a logical approach and it's at
least partly true. Angry customers expect
that you will be able to help them in some
concrete way, by meeting their want or need.
However, there's more to the story.
Ever notice that with a
really angry person, even if you can "fix"
the problem, the person still acts in angry
or nasty ways? Why is that? Well, actually
angry customers want several things. Yes,
they want the problem fixed, but they also
want to BE HEARD, TO BE LISTENED TO,
and to have their upset and emotional state
recognized and acknowledged.
What most employees do
with angry customers is move immediately to
solve the problem without giving that
acknowledgment. Do you know what happens?
The customer is so angry that he or she
isn't prepared to work to solve the problem,
doesn't listen, and gets in the way of
solving the problem. So the number one error
is moving to solve the problem before the
customer is "ready", or calm enough to work
with the employee. The result is the
employee has to repeat things over and over
(since the customer didn't hear), and has to
ask the same questions over and over. And
that's what drives people nuts.
The solution is to follow
this general rule: When faced with an angry
customer, FIRST focus on acknowledging the
feelings and upset of the customer. Once the
customer starts to calm down as a result of
having his or her feelings recognized, THEN
move to solving the problem. You'll find
that this will save you a lot of time and
Here are a few phrases
you can use:
It seems like
you're pretty upset about this and I
don't blame you. Let's see what we can
It has to be
frustrating to have to return a faulty
would be angry if their hotel
reservation got lost and they were
Make sure you address the
feelings first, THEN move to fix the
problem. You must do both.
© Copyright Robert Bacal,
2000 . You may reproduce this material
within your organization or in newsletters
free of charge provided this statement is
included, and all contact information is
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