We all deal with angry customers, and it's enough to drive people crazy. Angry and difficult customers are a major cause of workplace stress, and they take 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. For now, let's focus on the most common mistake employees make when dealing with the difficult or angry customer. By avoiding this particular error, you can save yourself a lot of stress and time.

 

The #1 Mistake

 

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

 

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 energy.

 

Situation 1

 

Here’s an example of a type of customer that is really feared. Now you’ll recognise Mr Tiger all right. In our example he’s turned up to the bank where Cathy works. As always, he’s angry. He’s been waiting about for nearly ten minutes. He may also have had a particularly bad day so far and wants any excuse to turn his anger on someone else. Let’s see how Cathy deals with him.

 
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