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How to deal with disgruntled customers

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It is a sad fact that there will always come a time when your customers will be disgruntled. Despite all the effort and hard work you invest on ensuring that you keep your customers happy, some will not be happy with your service.

It is inevitable that there will be the occasional disgruntled customer now and again. So, what can you do under such circumstances?

Stay calm and remember it’s not personal
When a customer is upset, remember that it is not a personal attack.

This is business, it is nothing personal. They are not mad at you as a person but are not happy with the service rendered. Give them the opportunity to talk for as long as they need to, not only to get it off their chest, but to thoroughly explain the problem.

What will you be doing in the meantime? Listen!! Listen carefully! You cannot fix what you don’t understand, so be sure to ask the customer enough questions to learn what is bothering them.

By simply listening, the customer will realise that you are interested in their problem and he/she will eventually calm down enough to discuss the situation in a positive manner.

Apologise and empathise
Once you understand why the customer is upset, apologise. Some business people do not like the idea of apologising.

They feel it is an admission of guilt that you have messed with the customer. Even if you don’t agree with their complaint, apologise. When you do this you are letting them know you validate them and will work towards a resolution.

This also separates the emotion from the problem. As a general rule, the expression of empathy to the customer should come right after the apology. When you feel you fully understand, restate your understanding of the problem at hand.

Resolve their problem, not yours

Your business should have policies in place to prepare people working the front lines to deal with customer, service issues. Empower your staff to resolve all customer related queries in a satisfactory manner.

However, not all situations are the same and therefore not all remedies should be the same either. If the disgruntled customer has made it clear what will satisfy him, then do everything within your power to accommodate that customer. This shows your commitment to resolving their problem.

Follow up
Whatever promises you make to the customer to resolve the issue, be sure to follow up. Call when you said you would call.

Even if you don’t have the resolution, let the customer know you’re sticking to your word. This shows the customer that his/her business is important to you and you’re actively working towards getting things fixed.

Learn from mistakes

Dealing with each unpleasant customer should be a learning experience. Customer feedback should be viewed as an opportunity for change. Keep in mind that not all customers can be pleased. Some people are just complainers and nothing you do will change that.

But everything you can correct about this situation will help with future events. Keep improving in areas over which you have control. Even though the customer is upset, this is still a sale.

He or she has already made a purchase and you have their money, so make sure your response is timely and respectful. Customers with complaints simply want you to be aware of the problem and take the necessary steps to correct it.

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