Of course not every customer is going to pleasant to deal with. Some are downright rude and just awful to deal with. When you are faced with a difficult customer you have two choices. You can either act defensively or helpfully. Acting defensively means responding in kind, reacting indifferently, or giving the silent treatment. None of this helps the customer.

It doesn’t solve his problem, causes a lot of stress and is asking for more abuse. When confronted with a difficult customer, your basic strategy should be one of kindness, empathy and solutions. The customer really has two problems in one.

First you have to deal with his feelings and secondly the problem which made him angry in the first place. If you simply solve the problem without making an effort to soothe his feelings, he probably won’t be back. Remember people come back to buy where they feel good.

Here are 5 ways to deal with an angry customer.

  • Keep your cool.
    If you are in the right you have no need to lose your temper and if you are wrong you can’t afford to lose it. Never allow the customer to put you on the defensive. Arguing back, making excuses, or saying “don’t blame me” will only make him angrier. People who fight fire with fire usually end up with ashes.
    Never argue back. If you make him look foolish he will try to find a way to fight back and you will lose the customer. If he makes you look foolish, he will think that you are dumb and nobody wants to buy from dumb people.
    Going on the defensive is a lose lose situation. Don’t sit and make him stand over you. Look him in the eye and look concerned about their problem. Respond to their comments with something like “I’m sorry that you are upset, let’s see what we can do to solve this problem and make things right for you."
    If he’s disturbing other customers, invite him to a more quiet place and help him out. Don’t take his remarks personally. Angry people say all kinds of irrational things that they don’t mean.
  • Listen with empathy and for the facts.
    If you seem to care about what they are feeling, the chances are that they will try and be more calm. Treating their problem like an everyday routine, or asking them to fill out a form without listening to them is just asking for more trouble. Angry people demand to be heard and understood.
    As you listen to them, look for areas of agreement and agree with them whenever you can. Statements such as “I understand why you are angry.” “I agree this is quite an inconvenience for you” And “If I were you I would be angry too” will show the customer that you emphasise and are trying to understand him. Then deal with the problem.
    If you don’t know it yet, ask questions like “what went wrong?” or “what did you do then? Who told you that? Can you tell me more about that?” Nod your head in agreement when you want the customer to keep talking. If appropriate take notes.
  • Take action to solve the problem.
    If possible offer the customer several options and let them choose. If you can’t solve the problem, refer them to someone who can and do what you can to put them in contact with the problem solver. And if your company is at fault, by all means apologise profusely.
    When you offer a customer solutions to his problem, state them positively. Tell them what you can do rather than what you can’t do. Don’t say “we are not open on Sundays” say “we are open until 1pm on Saturdays to serve you.” Don’t say “I can’t get you a refund today” say “Sir, I shall have your refund ready first thing in the morning.
  • ”Bring the incident to a polite close
    Once the problem is solved ask the customer “is there anything else that I can do for you today?” If the answer is “no” thank him for telling you his concern. Indeed he may have provided you with information which could save this situation from recurring with other customers in the future, and keep you from losing customers. It is the quiet customer who just goes away without saying anything that does the real damage to your business.
    When appropriate, call the customer to check if the problem has been properly solved or if a resolution is under way. This important finishing touch tells the customer that his problems are your utmost concern; that you care!
  • Don’t expect to win them all. It’s impossible to satisfy a small percentage of angry customers no matter what you do. Some customers are just plain angry and get their satisfaction from giving others a hard time.

If a customer shows definite signs of being violent, don’t try to handle it alone, get help from higher management or the authorities. If you face a lot of this regularly, have a tension outlet - play tennis, jog, swim, beat a pillow, get a punching bag. And don’t always expect to be perfect when dealing with angry customers. You are human too.

At times you will have to give a customer bad news, for example, you can’t complete the job at the time it was promised. What you thought was a minor problem is a major one and the cost exceeds the estimate that you gave them. The customer misunderstood what your product or service would do for them, and was expecting more than you can deliver.
Being human, you or someone else did something which may inconvenience the customer. It is much better to tell the customer and take the heat than to keep him in the dark and ultimately lose him. Whenever things go wrong that will inconvenience a customer, let him know immediately. This builds the confidence and trust necessary for an ongoing relationship.

Letting the customer find out the bad news himself magnifies and multiplies the problem. If you take a taxi to the garage at the agreed time to pick up your car and they say is won’t be ready until tomorrow, how will you feel? It’s bad enough that your car isn’t ready, but these jokers couldn’t be bothered to pick up the phone and tell you.

When you give a customer bad news, reward him with perks, do something special for him or give him something to off set the disappointment. Customers exchange their money for good feelings. People often react to bad news according to the way you tell them.