Angry customers aren’t people we would like to deal with everyday but in the customer service industry, we have to on an everyday basis. While resolving a customer’s complaint is the main priority, the ultimate goal is to have angry customers love your company. Is it possible to make angry customers love you?
The answer would be a resounding yes! And it is easier to do than it seems.
The great benefit of appeasing angry customers is found in the service recovery paradox. It states that when a company acts quickly to resolve a customer’s concern or complaint, he will end up more satisfied than he would have been if there weren’t any problems in the first place. Philadelphia-based customer service specialist Steve Coscia said it best, “The beauty of irate customers is that when emotions bubble to the top, it’s a prime opportunity to create a customer for life.” This means that when done quickly and correctly, you can turn your detractors to your most loyal fans.
Never get angry.
It’s a reactive emotion – when someone is angry and lashes out on you, you tend to get angry yourself. Remember that even though there are many possible reasons customers get upset with your company, product or service, (and chances are some of them aren’t even your fault) never ever be on the defensive and lash out. You can’t put out fire with another fire.
Frank Cianciulli, CEO of a Toronto-based business services provider, has this advice to give: “If you get defensive, it becomes an ego game, and when the customer calms down, he’ll leave you. But if you let him get it out, then calmly communicate what you’re doing to rectify the situation, you’ll regain his confidence. If you handle yourself gracefully, you get bonus points.”
Here’s another tip to help you reign in your temper when sparks are flying off the customer’s mouth – do not take complaints personally. Robert Spector, author of The Nordstrom Way and Lessons From The Nordstrom Way: How Companies are Emulating the #1 Customer Service Company suggested, “You need to take care of the customer and don’t take it personally. For the most part, most customers are well meaning; most customers are like us, and we’re not looking to rip off a company if we feel that we got bad service or the wrong price. We want somebody to hear our complaint. They may not necessarily have to take care of it, but we want them to hear and acknowledge and try to make it right.” This brings us to another tip.
Never ignore even the most baseless (to you) complaint. In this digital age, ignoring them would prove to be disastrous to your company and brand. The digital age has made it possible for customers to publicly vent online. And how do people do their research about a certain product, service or company? Review sites and social media networks are avenues for irate and upset customers to do significant damage to your brand. And most customers go online to vent when they feel they aren’t acknowledged or listened to.
When you acknowledge the complaint and be transparent on any action you are doing or planning to do about it, it effectively appeases an angry customer. Customers feel their complaints are valid and more importantly, that their worth or importance is acknowledged.
Make it personal.
Now, this tip might be contradicting to the other tip that suggests to not take a customer’s anger personally. What we mean by making it personal is taking a personal approach when talking to the customer and handling his concerns.
How do you take on a personal approach?
Call the customer by his name and use it throughout the conversation. It helps them feel that you are not just reciting a spiel on a policy procedure. Avoid these statements. Empathize by saying, “I understand how you feel.” Sharron Jones, a marketing director who fields customer complaints says, “If you can convince them you’re a real person who wants to help solve their problem, it immediately bursts their bubble of bitterness.”
Take it a step further – involve the higher ups.
Nothing impresses an angry customer more than letting him know the head of the company or someone more superior than an agent is listening. It doesn’t mean that your company CEO should start taking every irate call, but knowing which customers need special attention and having him send a personal message via e-mail greatly helps. The customer feels important because somebody important is paying him attention.
Angry Customers Make Your Business Better
If you listen to customer complaints, you get real feedback about your product or service and can make improvements. When you acknowledge their complaints and do something about it, you are not only solving their issues, you are making them happy! And happy customers make for loyal fans, even brand advocates!
When a company sends a message that they listen and are trying to set things right, customers realize they can count on them – and word of mouth advertising, the best kind of advertising, increases. See how amazing the service recovery paradox is?