How to successfully deal with angry customers, part 1 of 2

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How to successfully deal with angry customers, part 1 of 2

By Jeff Mowatt

Dealing with upset customers is like feeding bears. Most will be happy you’re there, but a few will get really ugly if you don’t give them what they want. When things go wrong, how well is your team equipped to deal with the situation? Having trained customer service teams for more than 25 years – particularly those dealing with customers who are frustrated or stressed – I’ve put together this list of frequently asked questions about how to deal with internet trolls and regain lost trust with upset customers.

How should you respond to internet trolls and customers who post rude or unfair comments?

First, gather the facts to determine whether this is an actual customer expressing a legitimate concern or just an internet troll trying to provoke a response. In the case of a troll comment like, “This place is horrible” (with no details), don’t reply. The sooner that negative post is buried by positive customer comments the better. When you do receive unflattering comments from actual customers, try to contact them by phone to resolve the matter offline. If that’s not possible, then when replying in writing, stick to facts (not opinions), and remain professional and reasoned – not emotional. If there was indeed an error on your team’s part, apologize for the hassle and offer a remedy. Mention the steps you’ll take to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Express your appreciation for the customer bringing it to your attention.


How do you deal with a customer who’s swearing at you on the phone?

Say this: “I want to help you. Using that language is preventing me from focusing on resolving this for you, so I’m going to ask you to talk with me without using that language.” If they continue the profanity then say, “As I said before, I want to help you. However, I’m not going to do so when you’re using that language, so I’m going to hang up. Please call back when you’re ready to talk about this without that language. Goodbye.” Then tell your supervisor about the conversation so they’ll be forewarned when the customer calls back demanding to speak to a manager.

What’s the fastest way to get an angry customer to calm down?

Listen without interrupting. After they finish venting, your first words should be, “That sounds frustrating.” Consider how this misstep may be affecting the customer and let them know that you get it. Take ownership and apologize for any shortfall or misunderstanding.


This article is based on the bestselling book, Becoming a Service Icon in 90 Minutes a Month, by motivational speaker, Jeff Mowatt. For more information, visit JeffMowatt.com.


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