Attending to an Unhappy Customer

Attending to an Unhappy Customer

You see a customer coming up to you and you can just tell that he is really unhappy. In fact, he looks down right angry. You have a couple of choices, run the other way to handle some other business or find a way to turn his attitude around

In these situations, when your customers are on the offensive and ready to ‘attack’, you may end up feeling defensive, as do many other service providers but it is important to remember that this is not necessarily about you. The customer’s anger is far more likely to be based on something that has nothing to do with you. What these mean is that when a customer is unhappy, it is unlikely that you are the cause of their unhappiness. Hopefully, having this fact in your mind will make it easier for you to brush aside any feelings of defensiveness.

So, what is the SOLUTION?

Greet your customer warmly and sincerely. A truly warm welcome can be totally disarming. “Hello, how can I help you?” is appropriate, even when you find this greeting is not warmly received. The next step is to acknowledge the problem. You might say, “You seem upset. Everything okay?” “What can I do to help” ?”

If your customer remains calm and can rationally answer your question, then all you have to do is help them resolve the issue.

But sometimes customers come in with so much anger that engaging them in a calm and rational manner is not possible. When this happens you need to take a different approach:

Have a goal. Decide that your goal is to resolve this customer’s issue as quickly as possible. The first few minutes you spent with an unhappy customer can have a lasting impact. So when you go into problem solving mode as opposed to defensive mode, you have a much greater prospect of having that customer leave happy.

Check your own attitude. Before you start your workday, conduct a personal inventory: How you are feeling? Are you tense? Are you rested? Did you just have a frustrating commute to work? Did you have an argument with someone? Be aware of how you are feeling and what you are thinking and leave any negative emotions and thoughts at the door. You will find it is very hard to naturally treat others well when you are distracted with other issues. What that means to you is that you will be calmer and able to think more clearly. It will also keep you from matching an angry customer’s emotions.

Take notes. When you start to take notes about what your customer is saying to you, he will feel like you are taking his problem seriously. There is also a side benefit. Since you can’t write as fast as the unhappy customer can speak, you can say, “I want to make sure I get all the details. Would you mind slowing down so I can get the information correct?” Once the customer slows down, they too can breathe and start calming down.

View the next upset customer as an opportunity.

With the right goal, good attitude, proper breathing and note taking, you cannot only turn that customer from unhappy to happy, you can begin the process of gaining his/her loyalty for life.

Any contribution? Share your thoughts…


Simon Page College of Marketing Eshun
[email protected]
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