Dealing Effectively With Angry People

September 1, 2015 by  

Customers and clients get angry for a variety of reasons and must be dealt with politely, respectfully and in a timely fashion.  In order to maintain good customer service practices, employees must be empowered and trained to handle those situations in a manner that will result in win/win outcomes.

Reasons for their anger could include the following:
• Poor procedures or policies
• Faulty or poor products or services
• Lost paperwork
• the Attitude of service providers
• Miscommunication (or no communication)
• Unmet expectations
• Inflexibility in procedures
• Missed deadlines

Remember: “On two occasions you should learn to keep your mouth shut – when swimming and when angry” ANON

Being able to deal with anger is an important part of a service provider’s job. The way in which the angry person is dealt with can mean the difference between the organization’s reputation being maintained positively or being severely damaged. Especially today with everyone being on social media!

Here are some tips and strategies to employ when dealing with an angry customer:
1. Don’t Interrupt
Let them ‘get it off their chest’. Just listen respectfully with empathy and concern, and be ready to help when they are done ranting.

2. Apologize
Apologize sincerely for what has happened. An apology can be delivered without taking blame however, which demonstrates a sincere willingness to help fix the issue.

3. Anti-mirror their behaviour
Angry people talk fast and loud. Speak slowly and in a normal tone and volume level. Be measured, respectful and honest in your reply.

4. Employ active listening & understanding
I hear what you have experienced and agree that it should not have happened, so here is what we can do for you. Or, how would you like to see this resolved? Let them know that you have heard their concern, paraphrase what you heard and offer a possible solution.  Try to offer them what they suggest would make them happy.

5. Get the facts
Don’t totally rely on information gained from the customer in their angry phase. Very often they exaggerate or fabricate things because emotions are driving their behaviour. Ask probing questions and explore with whomever was involved, as to what their perception of the issue is before taking action….no problem to get back to the angry person once a clearer picture has been determined.

6. Use the person’s name
There is nothing sweeter to a person’s ear than the sound of their own name. It is an excellent way to get their attention, and  to re-build the relationship. Don’t overuse their name, just use it to show respect and gain some trust. The more formal, “Mr. or Mrs.” Would probably be more appropriate in this situation.

7. Be reassurring and solution minded
Exhibit confidence to show that you are going to be able to work out a solution or compromise that will satisfy the customer.

8. Offer a Time line for resolution
Try not to say:”It will be done as soon as possible”. Rather give them a reasonable time line such as: “I’ll get back to you within the hour”; or:”It will be delivered within the next 3 days”. Be sure whatever you promise is possible and then make sure it happens!

9. Under promise and over deliver
Do everything within your power to offer them something extra: e.g. a shorter time line; a better product or service. Get others onboard to help make something memorable in a positive way happen for this customer. Make sure they are happy with the solution!

If the upset customer is dealt with in a professional, respectful and responsible manner then the company’s reputation can remain intact as that individual will be more likely to remember what you did to fix the problem rather than the problem itself.