Think back to an experience you had with a vendor that frustrated, angered, and made you shake your head in dismay. I admit it; unexpected situations drive me bananas. I don’t mean to pick on the cable company, but this particular experience is top-of-mind.
One of my co-workers recently told me about an infuriating experience she had with an install order at the cable company. She emphasized during the sales process that she was moving and HAD to connect to the internet on the date scheduled, so remote working was possible. She made an appointment three weeks in advance to be sure the work would get done on time. The cable technician came two hours early, while she was doing a run to the old house. He left a note on the door saying, “Sorry I missed you. Call the office to reschedule.” HUH? She had an appointment! The office let her know the next appointment would be two weeks away. Unacceptable!
She was angry and kept calling up the chain, retelling her story, getting rejected until she got a supervisor to listen to her and do something about it. The supervisor empathized with her problem, asked clarifying questions, and determined that she had done everything right to try and get service when she needed it. Then he did something that made her happy. The Supervisor said he would come out HIMSELF the next day on Sunday and install her internet and cable. That kind of demonstration of personal responsibility changed her anger into admiration.
No one likes to deal with unhappy customers. Customers, happy or not, have the power of social media to make or break your business. Here are some tips on handling unhappy customers.
1. Let them Rant - It is important for customers who perceive that they have been treated unjustly to talk about their issue. Ask clarifying questions to let them know you are listening to them, and want to get details. Say things like; I hear your frustration. Let's find out what we can do to fix this.
2. Tell them what you can do, not what you can’t do. For example, I can schedule you for the very next available technician. Not, I don’t have any techs available for a week.
3. Look past the anger - find out what caused the issue. Was it unclear expectations? Did we drop the ball? It is common to dismiss customers as unreasonable, or cranky, but you may be dismissing genuine feedback.
4. Don’t defer blame - Nothing infuriates a customer more than being told what they did wrong when they have a complaint. Your tone, if dismissive, can start a firestorm right where you don’t want it - on social media. Just apologize without any caveats. Even if the customer is off-the-wall unreasonable, say you are sorry and ask how you might help resolve the issue.
5. How you ask questions either feeds the anger or diffuses it. If you ask a customer a negative question, you’re asking for a negative response.
Is there anything else wrong? (Negative)
Is there anything else I can help you with? (Positive)
6. Complaints need a speedy response. Don’t think you can wait a day or two until they “settle down.” They won’t. Don’t let them feel powerless and drive them to feel that social media is the only way to get your attention.
No one enjoys dealing with angry customers. Better communication can create opportunities to earn respect and turn them into fans. The key is that the customer is not always right, but you have the power to make your response right.
How do you handle angry customers? Please join the conversation and comment below.
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