March 3, 2020
Nobody comes to work in the morning anticipating having to deal with a volatile situation. But it happens. It can happen very quickly and the ability to respond in a way that diffuses the situation is a learned skill that professionals who deal with the public hone with experience.
If you have the luxury of a phone call in advance that gives you an opportunity to prepare ahead of any face-to-face confrontation you might have with a disgruntled customer. Use that time to gather all of the pertinent facts and prepare a strategy. Most importantly, use that time to calmly assess the situation and develop a plan to give the customer space to vent.
Unfortunately, angry customers don’t always call first. You may be faced with someone showing up at your desk with an issue that they feel strongly about and they demand your immediate and complete attention. The best professionals know how to respond with compassion and empathy.
There are six traits that will enable you to diffuse the situation. These are:
Understanding the issue requires you to be an active listener. Make eye contact with your customer, shaking your head in acknowledgment that you understand what they are saying and appreciate the position they are in. Active listening benefits both parties.
CALM, SYMPATHETIC DEMEANOR
The worst thing that you can do in response to an angry customer is to allow yourself to get upset as well. Even if the problem is the result of something you did it is vital that you present a professional response.
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
If you internalize the problem and take it personally that will only exacerbate the issue and make it more difficult to solve. Remember at all times that problem-solving is an art-form that is required in any career where part of your responsibilities is to deal with the public. While there are going to be positive reactions to the services that you provide and the work that you do, there are also going to be times when things don’t go right. The best customer service employees are adept at maintaining their composure in both situations.
SOLVE THE PROBLEM IF POSSIBLE
If you understand the issue and have the ability to provide a solution on the spot, calmly explain what you will do to the customer. Keep their feelings and frustration in the forefront of your response. An angry customer can walk away satisfied if they believe the professional they dealt with provided a complete and adequate response.
APOLOGIZE, EVEN IF ONE IS NOT WARRANTED
Nothing goes further to diffuse a situation than an apology. You don’t have to take ownership if it doesn’t appear that you or the business really did anything wrong. But you can say “I’m so sorry this happened to you” or “We apologize that this happened”. It validates the customer in their own mind while projecting a professional, caring image for the company.
Explosive situations involving angry customers can create stress on all involved. This include you, even if you take all of the above steps and handle the situation perfectly. Give yourself a moment after the customer leaves to calmly assess the response and make a mental note of ways that you might be able to improve the next time something like this happens.
At the Valeri Agency we pride ourselves in providing the best customer service. We understand that, while in most situations our customers are completely happy and satisfied with our service, there will be those times when something goes wrong. We are prepared to address those situations in a way that our customers expect and deserve.