How to Handle an Angry Customer

Every once in a while, no matter how wonderful your service or product is, you’re going to get an upset or angry customer. It happens, we can’t please everyone all of the time. What we can do though, is take the necessary steps to turn that customer’s unpleasant experience into an opportunity. An upset customer is NOT necessarily a bad thing for your business – treat it as an opportunity to show why your business is better than your competitors. In the end, you may lose their business, but they will walk away with a positive view of your company and hopefully a smile on their face. While your product or service may not be right for them, at that moment, you’re taking the opportunity to give them the tools to recommend you to their friends and colleagues.

Steps to Better Customer Service

I spoke to two of our employees at OneVoice, Crystal and Alisha, who handle the bulk of customer calls. We pride ourselves on providing the best customer experience above all else; but sometimes, even we get a call from someone who’s a little upset. So I asked Crystal and Alisha, to share with me what steps they take when handling an angry customer. I’ve combined their advice into four important aspects of great customer service!

Listen and Acknowledge

The customer wants to be heard and they want to know that you heard them. Repeat their problem back to them, so that they know you really are listening.

Set Expectations and then Exceed Them

Customers want to know what you’re going to do to fix the problem and how long it will take, so don’t wait for them to ask. Tell them right away exactly what steps you are going to take and how long this process will take. Then strive to exceed that time table and their expectations.

Take Ownership

Saying to the customer “I will handle this for you” is much stronger than “we will handle this for you” – the customer doesn’t know who “We” is, they only know who YOU are. In that moment in time, you represent your entire company, and the customer wants YOU to handle their problem

Empathy and Urgency

That angry customer is just another person on this planet. They are a son or a daughter to someone, maybe a parent, or a sister. Treat them like you would want someone to treat your family. Share in their feelings of frustration and understand how important it is to resolve their problem in a very timely manner

Initiating a Warm Transfer

Sometimes – you’re just not going to be able to help a customer and you need to involve someone else. Maybe someone in a different department or a manager. It is important that you initiate a “Warm Transfer”. Politely tell the customer you will put them on hold while you get someone that can assist them with their problem. Before transferring the customer, explain to the other person who the customer is, exactly what their problem is, and what steps you’ve already taken. An angry customer does NOT want to explain their frustration twice. Once you’ve done this, get back onto the call with the customer. Tell them the name of the person you are transferring them to, and explain to them that you’ve already relayed all of the information to this person and they will be helping them. In the end, it’s all about finding common ground and relating to the person on the other end. We’ve all experienced frustration at some time or another, and all we want is to be heard and have someone help relieve our angry feelings.

Script that you can use:

Alisha provided a script below that you can use as a starting point to understand the types of things to say to someone who’s upset. “I’m sorry to hear that your service has been interrupted and I understand how detrimental this can be to your daily operation. (Listen and Acknowledge) I’m currently creating a Priority 1 trouble ticket with our Carrier Team to have the circuit tested by the first available technician in an effort to isolate the issue. (Empathy and Urgency) I will call you back as soon as the results are available, but certainly within 1 hour with the details of the initial testing…. and depending on the test results, with a plan of action. (Set Expectations) Again my name is Alisha and my direct number is 703-880-2500. Feel free to call me back if you need to, prior to my getting back to you with the details of the initial testing, as I will be your POC until the issue is resolved. (Take Ownership)