May 23, 2019

4 min

5 Tips For Dealing with An Angry Customer (The Right Way!)


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It’s any customer-facing team’s worst nightmare – an angry customer. No matter the business, a frustrated customer creates a difficult situation for your team. Are you wondering how to transform a shaky customer encounter into positive resolution? Read on to learn 5 tips that will help you manage an angry customer and recover from difficult interactions. 


Tip 1: Stay Calm and Carry On 

There’s little doubt that word choice and tone can influence your customer interactions. In fact, a 1967 study by Albert Mehrabian developed the “7% – 38% – 55% Rule.” The rule determined that communication is made up of three parts: 

  1.       Your Words Used 7%
  2.       Your Tone of Voice 38%
  3.       Your Body Language 55%

When dealing with a difficult customer, remember that your initial reaction is just as important as your solution. An anxious or uncertain tone can rile up a customer. Likewise, improper word choice can create communication gaps that add to a customer’s frustration. It’s not just about what you say, but rather how you say it. 

By remaining calm and collected, you will be better equipped to provide the stability your customer seeks. By not taking your customer’s frustration personally, you can focus on keeping your communication concise and effective. 

Tip 2. Validate Your Customer Concerns 

If the customer wasn’t angry, they probably wouldn’t care. And a customer that doesn’t care is a customer that is likely to churn. 

Remember that as a Customer Success professional your goals are aligned – both you and your customer want to drive value out of your product. Communicate an understanding of why your customer is upset – when possible identify with what they are going through. Just remember – you’re not necessarily accepting blame or apologizing. You are rather validating their concerns and displaying empathy. A high functioning Customer Success team not only proves itself by solving difficult issues, but by validating the reasons why the customer chose to do business with them in the first place.   

Tip 3. Map Out Your Customer Journey (and Account for Detours!) 

A Customer’s Journey often takes unexpected detours throughout their lifecycle. When encountering a situation that has the potential to change the customer’s path, be sure to share updates and manage expectations. 

For a frustrated customer, one of the most difficult obstacles is dealing with the unknown. When it comes to an implementation schedule or other important deadlines, a lack of forward-facing visibility can be scary. By continuously mapping out your customer journey and accounting for last minute changes, your CS team will better manage their customer relationships. Your customer should always know their path to success and next steps – regardless of any bumps in the road. 

Tip 4. Emphasize Active Listening 

Active listening is key to building trust, especially when dealing with an upset customer. Close those open browser tabs and put away your phone! When you’re fully present in the moment, a customer will notice your engaged presence in the conversation. Similarly, customers who raise concerns sometimes feel that they lack a voice. By listening to your customer and paraphrasing their important key points, your customer will be assured that they are indeed being heard out. 

Besides its ability to de-escalate interactions, active listening enables you to better pickup on subtle cues. What seemed like a minor issue could rather signal a larger challenge. Keep an eye out for any hints, comments or language that may indicate your customer’s health is slipping. 

Tip 5. Encourage Selfcare 

Selfcare is often an afterthought when it comes to dealing with angry customers. As someone that serves on the front lines of customer interactions, some days are more difficult than others. While often overlooked, self-care pays dividends both in and out of the workplace. A happy, clear headed and productive employee is an employee that is equipped to deliver an exceptional customer experience. 

Don’t be afraid to take a walk between calls or catch a breath of fresh air. An overworked and exhausted team will have difficulties exceeding customer expectations. Encouraging vacation breaks, setting boundaries and practicing mindfulness are just a few ways to build a team that is sustainable for the long term.  

By promoting self-care your team is doing something that is not only good for your employees, but also for your business. After all, you must take care of yourself if you plan to take care of others. 

Looking for more tips on how energize your Customer Success Function? Subscribe to our Fighting Churn Newsletter for more ideas and inspiration on retaining your customers. 

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