Keep Angry Customers Happy

Keep Angry Customers Happy

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I recently came across tip lists for how to deal with angry customers. I found them interesting, because all too often I am that angry customer.

When I have a problem, or a company has done something wrong, and they can’t or won’t fix it, it makes me insane.
Maybe it has something to do with writing about business for 20 years, but I’m deeply familiar with how a good business should work — and always disappointed when it doesn’t happen.

Though I’ve had my blow ups, I believe you can salvage a relationship with an angry customer. Here are seven ways to keep angry customers like me from storming out of your real or virtual store, never to return.

  • Realise my time is valuable. If you’re putting me on hold and transferring me, you are losing me. And that’s what happens all too often. As John Tschohl, author of Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service, puts it, solve my problem quickly, or find someone who can. You can only do this if your employees all understand the chain of command and are empowered to solve problems.
  • Get real about outsourcing service. You think your customers can be helped by people with strong accents and limited English skills in foreign countries. But the reality is quite often, we can’t.
  • Actually care. Yes, you’re calm, but if I don’t sense real empathy for my situation, your calmness is only making me crazier. It makes me feel you don’t understand that I’m in crisis, and you need to make it better.
  • Reach out on Twitter. If you are not monitoring your business name on Twitter, you are losing a big opportunity. I’ve had companies respond to me immediately about a problem. That is an instant anger defuser.
  • Go above and beyond. Once you’ve made a customer mad, do something to fix the relationship. It’s like a spat with your spouse. You need the equivalent of a nice card or flowers.
  • Don’t just file a support ticket. These are the Internet age’s slow boats to China. You need another option – live email chat, Twitter support or something else that moves faster and gives me more confidence that you understand the urgency of my situation.
  • Fix the broken policies. You can avoid angry customers if you figure out what’s wrong with your process. My husband and I recently opted to have a new shower installed, but canceled instead. It took 45 days and multiple conversations to get our deposit refunded, even though the company installs showers in a single day.
Carol Tice
Carol has been reporting on businesses large and small for 15 years now.