How to Deal with an Angry Customer

We’ve all had one. And in some situations, if not many, we aren’t the source of their anger. It’s frustrating. We can feel even more powerless when it seems obvious what needs to be done to assuage their angry feelings, but we don’t seem to have the authority to do it.

How to deal with an angry customer in that situation? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. First, use your empathy. Put yourself in their shoes and consider what might make you feel better.
  2. Ask yourself, is their concern legitimate?
  3. Next, think about the people who do have the authority to do something, and get creative. What might you do or say that will get them to open their minds?
  4. Apologize to the angry customer. Even if you feel like it isn’t your fault. Acknowledge that they have a right to their anger.
  5. Take responsibility. Let them know you will do everything you can to assist.
  6. Set boundaries. State clearly that you are going to be respectful during your conversation, and you are sure they will do likewise (even if you’re not so sure).
  7. Commit to listening. No matter how angry the customer seems in their delivery, hear their words.
  8. Answer customer anger with questions. Find out more. Why is that? And then what happened? What was the impact on you? How can you help?
  9. Do or say something that is within your power, that will move the situation forward, even if it is just a little.
  10. Keep working to change the policy that prevents you from solving the problem.

Lastly, remind yourself of this: not every problem can be solved today. Solutions will reveal themselves in their own good time. And as long as you have done everything in your power to make it better, be satisfied that you made the effort.

I’m Megann Willson, and I’m one of the Partners here at PANOPTIKA. We work with our clients to help them engage their customers (even angry customers), and to see everything they need to know to make better decisions and grow their careers or their businesses. You can also find us on Twitter, on Facebook, or on LinkedIn. And weekly, we share some more insights in our News you Can Use. Get it Below.

The Longer You Hide From Issues, the Bigger They Get

Boy covering face with hands

Have you ever seen a little kid hide their face, thinking that if they do that, no one will see them? Not facing up to issues is a big like that. Not only do they keep on coming, but the longer you hide from issues, the bigger they get. And eventually, just like with the little kid, they’re eventually so close that you have no choice but to deal with them…but on their terms, not yours.

So what can you do? It depends on the issue. Is it a potential issue, or a risk? Something that could go wrong? Then the best course of action is to investigate. You need to determine whether the issue or outcome you’re worried about is real. That takes research, or seeking feedback, or plain old listening. Once you’ve established that what you’re worried about could happen, it’s time to do a risk assessment. That entails two parts:

  1. Evaluating the degree of risk, or probability
  2. Deciding how much tolerance you have for taking the risk, knowing the degree of probability that it will happen

Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to make a more informed plan of action, rather than just waiting and hoping.

On the other hand, there are issues that you’ve already created for yourself. The odds, or probability, of an issue directly caused by your actions (a customer service error, or a major faux pas with your audience or stakeholders) being harmful to your business, are 100%. At that point, you need to fix it. The classic apology strategy goes like this:

  1. Express regret. Say you’re sorry. Say it publicly.
  2. Explain what you did wrong so the person/people wronged know you understand.
  3. Acknowledge your responsibility to fix it.
  4. State very clearly that you will commit to not doing it again.
  5. Make an offer of reparation – don’t just fix it, but take the penalty.
  6. Ask for their forgiveness.

And then, most importantly of all, don’t demand that their forgiveness is given on your timeline. And don’t hide, hoping it will all blow over. It won’t. No matter how much you hide, the injury will never go away, but by taking an active part, you can help it to heal. That means getting back to business, doing your work, and continuing to keep the commitments you’ve made as part of your apology – no matter how much it stings your ego to do so.

I’m Megann Willson, and I’m one of the Partners here at PANOPTIKA. We help our clients see everything in their business environment, so they can make better decisions and forge stronger relationships with their customers, clients, and constituents. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Or you can receive weekly news by signing up with the orange button, below.

The Best Way to Make Customers Listen

How do you make customers listen to you, when you have something you want to tell them? The very best way to make customers listen, is to think about who you serve. Everyone serves someone, and if you’re in business, any business, you serve your customer. Universities serve their students. Corporations serve their customers (even before shareholders, or the shares won’t be worth much). Once you know who you serve, there are four more things to do, to get customers to listen:

  1. Listen to them first. Hear their aspirations, their challenges, and their concerns.
  2. Tell them that you’ve heard them, so they know you are listening.
  3. Back up what you’ve told them with action.
  4. Share the results.

Once they know that you’re willing to put them first, they’ll listen. You won’t need to ask twice.

I’m Megann Willson, and I’m a Partner here at PANOPTIKA. We work with our clients to help them see everything they need to know to make better decisions for their businesses and careers. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn – and we’ll also send our weekly post along with some other useful tidbits, direct to your inbox – just click the handy button, below.

If You Really Love Your Customers, Do This

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Image from Ron van den Berg via Pixabay
Every day, we hear companies saying they love their customers. And how do they show it? They push them tons and tons of irrelevant content. They flood their inboxes. They try to sell them things they don’t want or need. And here’s what many of them don’t do:

Try to find out what will really make them happy. 

If you’ve been fortunate enough to be in a long-lasting relationship (like we have), you’ll know that you’re always looking for ways to delight the other person. To show them that you want to help them get what they want and need to feel like they are their best. Saying sorry when you’re wrong. Asking their closest friends if there’s something they’ve been dreaming of that they haven’t told you. Not taking, taking, taking. 

So today, on Valentine’s Day, and every day, if you really love your customer:

  1. If you’ve messed up in any way, apologize. Sincerely.
  2. Find out what they’ve really been dreaming about without asking them to spell it out for you (watch, observe, pay attention, or ask others who know them as well or better as you do) and then help them get it.
  3. Do an unasked kindness for them that doesn’t have an immediate payoff for you (A referral? An endorsement? A sincere note of thanks that isn’t a sales pitch?

To you: thanks for reading. We appreciate it. And thank you to all of you who refer others, endorse us on social media, and engage in conversations about how to find, understand, and engage customers. I’m Megann Willson, and I’m one of the Partners here at PANOPTIKA. (The other is Steve Willson – Happy Valentine’s Day!) You can find us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, or through our weekly email news.