Last Updated: December 2023
Is it possible to convert an angry customer into a brand advocate? How you answer this question reflects whether you have a defensive or proactive mindset when dealing with one.
Rude or angry customers can be a handful. Depending on the situation, they are likely to do some or all of the following:
- Escalate an issue to a supervisor,
- Complain to their friends and family, and
- Switch to a different brand.
What’s more, they are likely to leave negative online reviews to spread the word. So, it is important to treat them with professionalism and empathy.
There are plenty of reasons for a customer to be unhappy. For example, if an order arrives at the wrong address even after the customer specifically asked for it to be sent somewhere else, sparks will fly. In such cases, the customer deserves a follow-up call and an extra 10% off as a gesture of appreciation.
However, if that does not happen, you have a potential irate customer. Since the customer feels they were mistreated, you must avoid aggravating them further. You must seek to address the problem with empathy and tact. While this isn’t going to be easy, try to de-escalate and calm the customer down.
The key is to have an open mind and focus on the solution, not the problem. To be sure, there is a good chance that a customer may not be willing to listen to you. You may still end up with a negative review but do it right, and you will have won a customer for life! It is certainly worth the effort. If nothing else, the experience will help you develop your problem-solving and escalation management skills.
5 Effective Steps to Calm Down an Angry Customer
Here are a few tried and tested ways for e-commerce companies to handle angry customers like a pro.
1. Focus on what you can control:
It is easy to be overwhelmed by the negativity and frustration expressed by an angry customer. In such cases, most people go on the defensive and feel helpless. Things may seem beyond your control; however, the truth is you alone can control how you respond. For example, the words your agents use can have a major influence on the customer they are speaking with. During tense moments, the agents need to remember that the customer’s anger is not directed personally at them. It is a reaction to the experience they have had while using a product.
Reframing the situation as an ‘opportunity’ can help your agents respond in a resourceful way. For example, using statements like “let’s find out why this problem happened” or “thank you for bringing this issue to our attention” can turn an escalation into an opportunity for collaboration.
2. Seek first to understand, then be understood:
It is quite natural for a customer service agent to jump to the solution right away. However, this can frustrate an angry customer even more. The reason: they are not allowed to express how they are feeling. At its very core, every escalation is someone expressing how they feel due to a bad experience.
Angry customers are only a symptom of a deeper problem with your product, processes, or both. So, the first step is to understand why they are upset. However, it is equally possible that the customer may have misunderstood something. Asking clarifying questions can go a long way in improving their perception of your brand.
It is important for your team to think from the customer’s point of view. Playing the blame game will only make things worse. The customer may not always be right, but it is critical to understand their perspective.
Use statements like “Can you tell me a little more about the problem you’re facing when trying to check-out on our website?”
3. Check interaction memos and account status:
If you have a CRM tool, check the memos from previous interactions to get a better perspective on the customer’s situation. Continue asking questions while tracking the last follow-up, if any. Also, crosscheck your helpdesk for any other open tickets logged by the same customer. This will help you identify the exact issue and come up with a resolution.
Remember: Avoid putting the customer on hold while researching their account. Instead, talk to them about what you are doing to find the solution they want.
4. Tone of voice is as important as your words:
An angry customer may scream and shout; however, your agents must maintain a neutral tone. According to research, just 7% of the meaning of your communication is what you say while 38% is how you sound. Do not interrupt or talk over the customer. This can quickly result in a confrontation, with each side insisting they are not at fault.
If you are responding to a social media review, apologize first, and offer an immediate resolution. Remember to take responsibility for a problem and apologize wherever necessary.
5. Do not transfer directly to a supervisor:
Angry customers often insist on speaking with a supervisor. After your agents have tried all the standard de-escalation techniques, they can undoubtedly get a supervisor on the line. However, ensure that they provide the supervisor all the information they have already gathered, including notes, ticket details, order receipts, etc.
It is not only professional to do so, but it can save precious time for both the agent and the customer. A ‘warm’ transfer can give customers a sense of continuity rather than having to explain everything from scratch. This can often be the deciding factor in whether the customer decides to stay or leave.
How you handle an upset customer can either change or reinforce their perceptions about your brand. By staying focused on the problem rather than the emotions surrounding it, you can create space for a resolution. However, if your agents already handle high volumes, it is likely they may not have the patience and empathy to assist upset customers. Helplama can be the ideal partner to small and medium businesses looking to outsource customer support.
Furthermore, you can also consider the AI-powered live chat software of Helplama Helpdesk. Along with engaging with your customers in real-time, it can also help your team with e-commerce workflows, real-time reports, etc. This software also provides customized pricing plans starting from $99/month.
So, what are you waiting for?