How Psychology Can Help in Dealing with Angry Customers
An angry customer doesn’t mean a lost customer. In fact, if you handle the situation well, it will likely build greater trust and strengthen the customer relationship. But you’ve got to act fast – a dissatisfied customer or client will only provide a very narrow window of opportunity for resolution.
For advice on counteracting negative human emotions and feelings, a natural port of call is psychology. Here we look at tips from psychology which can help in dealing with angry customers: from spotting the warning signs, to showing empathy, providing a solution and repairing the relationship.
How To Deal with Difficult Customers
1. Spot the Signals
The signals are both verbal and physical – naturally, the physical signs are much easier to spot face to face than over the phone – unless it’s a video call. Natural self-conscience often means that angry customers feel more confident expressing their anger via the phone than in person. It’s much easier to vent into a phone than when looking into someone’s face. So, if a customer exhibits signs of anger in person, it’s a sure sign their annoyance is turning into rage.
Physical signals: flushed complexion, fidgeting, tense posture, sweating, clenched jaw, clenched fists are all signs that a customer is getting increasingly angry or frustrated.
Verbal signals: sighing, short answers, sarcasm, a harsher or stern tone of voice or silence.
The first step in handling difficult or angry customers is spotting the signs early. After all, a fire is much easier to put out before it spreads! That’s your cue to enquire about their thoughts or opinions. Which leads nicely on to point 2.
2. Let them Vent
You asked for it, so now you need to listen. Don’t interrupt or try and defend yourself – even if you’re not directly at fault, as a sales rep you are the face of your company to the customer, so their frustrations will be naturally targeted at you.
A key step in effectively handling customer complaints is to communicate that you recognise their complaints deserve attention. Let them lead the conversation from this point. Actively listen – paraphrase back what the customer has said as simply and in as few words as possible from them to clarify so that you can…
3. Get a Clear Understanding of Their Issue
This sounds obvious and by letting them vent, surely that is what you are doing? Well, actually no. Often an angry customer will cloud their issue in a haze of emotion and occasional expletives. When the chance naturally arises, ask questions to clarify what has happened and try and get all the facts.
The worst thing you can do is make assumptions – in that case, the solution you propose may not solve anything. The key to rebuilding relationships with customers is to look at the situation from their point of view – walk a mile in their shoes if you will – and think about what could be done better.
4. Keep Calm but Empathise
When dealing with angry customers, it can be easy to let the heat emanating from them bring your own mood down. This should be avoided, but you don’t want to appear disengaged. If you are too calm, you risk appearing unmoved by their problem. Just remember to keep your voice low and speak calmly. Be sure to demonstrate empathy – offer supportive statements such as ‘I understand’ and ‘I appreciate that is frustrating’. Show you are on their side.
5. Break Their Problem Down into Bitesize Pieces
Assuming it’s a big issue which has led to their anger, the best way to offer a short-term solution or quick fix is to break their problem down into smaller parts and solve the easiest one to fix first. This way you show your customer that you are doing what you can to help them as quickly as possible.
6. Ask Them for Their Solution
It’s easier to tell what they want, if you just ask them. “What could we do to put this right?”. The customer feels empowered and valued.
7. Give a Solution
Propose a solution to their issues and explain why it will help or solve their problem. If what they want or need isn’t possible, or will take time to change, try and offer some form of solution that goes some way to meeting their needs. Even if that is just a holding statement such as “I will take this up with head office immediately”. Avoid simply saying “no” and keep your attempt at meeting their requirement open.
8. Repair the Relationship
The goal in all of this is to maintain the customer relationship. Try and close the meeting or conversation on a positive note. You could suggest “Shall we go for a coffee?” or “Next time I’m down we will go for dinner”. If possible and necessary, offer a voucher or discount on their next order.
Build new, and maintain customer relationships with sales-i
Dealing with angry customers is about understanding them, effective communication and meeting their specific needs. With sales-i sales performance software and integrated CRM system in place, you will build effective relationships with your customers. With knowledge and insights at your fingertips, you’re far better equipped to spot and resolve their issues. By applying psychology and the right software, it’s easier to manage even the most difficult and demanding clients.