Anger is natural.

And sometimes, no matter how hard you try, one of your customers might get angry thanks to your product or service.

It’s ok, it happens to every business.

But just because it happens to everyone, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously.

In fact, dealing with difficult or angry customers can create opportunities to turn anger into loyalty and therefore increase your business revenue.

Today, let’s break down how to handle difficult or angry customers.

Listen

The golden rule. When dealing with an angry customer make sure you let them talk and describe their issue. Do not interrupt them and ask questions if something is not clear.

Let them know that they are being heard and that your first goal is to fully understand the issue they are running into.

And make sure you’re actually listening. If you cannot fully understand the issue your customer is running into, you will have a harder time solving the said issue.

Use Empathy

Anger is a strong emotion. As a result, empathy helps in defusing anger and moving the conversation toward a solution.

When talking to angry customers, try to put yourself in their situation and speak to their emotions. Remind them that their emotions are valid and you could see how their issue could make them frustrated.

Then reassure the customer by reminding them that your #1 goal at the moment is to solve their issue to the best of your ability.

Keep a normal tone of voice

If someone yells or curses at you, a natural response would be to yell or curse back.

However, this kind of response usually just stokes the flames of anger even more and rarely (or rather, never) results in a productive conversation.

Remember to keep a composed and relaxed tone of voice while dealing with angry customers. You are in control of the tone of the conversation and your tone should reflect this.

Assume all your customers are watching (because they might be!)

While you might be dealing with a single angry customer, your actions during this process might have an impact on many more customers.

We live in an age of powerful word-of-mouth and social media. Sometimes, you might be dealing with an angry customer ON social media.

How you handle these customers could have a positive or negative impact on the rest of your customer base.

Explain the solution process and timelines

An angry customer might be going through a lot of intense emotions at the moment. So, when discussing a solution, keep them informed with details on next steps and timelines.

Do not put them on hold for “just one moment” while you “look into the issue”. This approach just generates more doubts for the customer. For how long are they going to be on hold? What are you exactly looking into? Is what you’re looking into really the solution to my problem?

Instead, let the customer know exactly what to expect.

“Let me put you on hold for 2 minutes while I confirm that we have a replacement unit available for you”.

The customer now knows how long to wait and what solution is being implemented. This approach also gives them an opportunity to let you know if they would prefer a different solution.

If needed, follow up

If the customer’s emotions are still high after your first interaction, it might be a good idea to follow up.

After all, after a few days, their emotions should have died down a bit or fully subsided.

In your follow up ask them about their issue, the solution that was implemented and if further help is needed.

Also, let them know that if any other issues ever arise, your support team will be happy to help them promptly.

Pro-tip: Use a CRM to keep track of customers’ contact info and follow-up dates.

Know when it isn’t worth it

Just because a customer is angry, it doesn’t mean they are allowed to abuse or berate you, your employees or your other customers.

You might also be dealing with people who just want to rip you off or that will never be happy no matter what you do.

Or you might be dealing with a may-I-speak-with-the-manager Karen who is just being difficult for the sake of being difficult.

Draw your own line and learn to identify cases where it’s just not worth it to go the extra mile.

And in the case of abusive customers, know when to just wish them a good day and let them walk away.

Do not take it personally

When you’re the person directly talking to an angry customer, It’s very easy to let their anger get to you. You might feel guilty or responsible for their anger.

Remember though that the source of their anger is the product or service, not you.

There’s always a solution available, meaning that the problem is not you.

After dealing with an extremely angry customer, we recommend you take a short break and let your own emotions flow through.

Maybe have some tea, put on a song you like or go for a short walk. Talking about it with your coworkers, who will 100% understand your position, is also a great way to clear your emotional palette.

Closing Thoughts

Dealing with an angry customer is a challenge that comes with running any kind of business.

At the end of the day, angry customers might be unpredictable. But the tips we’ve mentioned before can work as guidelines for how to handle the interaction.