By Sally Smith
You can do everything in your power to make your customers as happy as possible, but at some point you will undoubtedly need to deal with a few angry customers. The trick then becomes how to respond to these people.
If you respond poorly to angry customers, they’ll feel justified in their anger and say bad things about your company. On the other hand, responding well can make a loyal customer out of an angry individual, which can lead to good word of mouth and increased customer retention.
Here are six ways to deal with unhappy customers:
1. Respond quickly. Making angry customers wait will only make them angrier because they think you’re ignoring them and that you consider them unimportant. When handling customer complaints, respond quickly and try to resolve issues as soon as possible. Providing fast customer service shows that you appreciate your customers’ business and value them as guests.
2. Keep the discussion public. When dealing with customer problems on social media, a concern that many business owners have is that everyone can see the conversation. This actually can be a good thing. Keeping the discussion on social media instead of conversing offline shows that you have nothing to hide and allows everyone to see how well you respond in a negative situation. Potential customers who can see how well you handled an unhappy customer’s complaint may choose to do business with you.
3. Do not offer stock responses. Most customers can spot a generic response that has been written to cover most customer issues. Many businesses copy and paste premade responses to certain types of problems without truly reading or understanding what a particular problem is. A stock response will make a customer feel like you’re not listening to them or really caring about their problem.
4. Make the conversation informal but respectful. When dealing with angry customers, it’s important to talk to them like normal people. Don’t fill the conversation with a bunch of company policy and technical speak, and avoid calling people “sir” or “ma’am.” Address customers by name, give them your name, and speak to them like you would to a friend.
For example, if a person posts a complaint on your website about a broken link, say something like: “Hello, Mike. My name is Sarah, and I’m very sorry about this problem. We’ve been having connection issues with our server lately, but we’re expecting that the situation will be fixed in a few hours. Hopefully, you’ll be able to get your order through soon!” This will make the conversation a little warmer and possibly help tone down any tension.
5. Offer sincere apologies. Just like you shouldn’t have premade responses to problems, you also shouldn’t have stock apologies. For example, some companies offer only generic apologies such as, “We’re terribly sorry for the inconvenience that this problem has caused.” Every problem should be handled personally. No matter who is at fault for the issue, a personal apology shows that you truly care about any trouble that may have been caused by your business.
6. Make amends. You may not be able to fix every problem entirely, but you can do everything in your power to make up for them. This is common practice in food service where many restaurants will not only replace a meal if there is something wrong with it, but will also take the cost off of the bill. This can be applied to nearly every situation, and having the right offer for each problem will make a solution seem even more tailored to your customers’ needs.
Dealing with angry customers doesn’t have to result in an argument or a lost customer. As long as you give people your personal attention, stay calm, and do everything that you can to address their problems and make them right, you can successfully handle complaints so that customers will come back to do business with you again.