It’s nothing personal

Monday morning and an angry customer is walking into the office, and for your own self-preservation, you never want to trade insults, yell back, engage in sarcasm, or be intimidated. You must first understand an angry customer at the simplest level.

They’re not angry at you; it’s only because you are an employee and representative of the company, but since you’re there in front of them, you naturally become the target. That angry woman who reminds you so much of your mother wants her problem solved, and your job is not to get her to that particularly hostile  point we’ve all heard, ” Well it’s the principle,” because at this point even if you could work something out, she would still be dissatisfied.

So what do you do? Let’s start at the beginning as the angry customer walks in:

– Observe body language. You never want to be blindsided by someone’s temper. Are their arms crossed, shoulders hunched, restless, staring or acting rude? You need to always remember the person isn’t mad at you, so try to be as unpolitical as you can be. Introduce yourself, and be polite. Ask the person her name and address her by name. Try not to make her wait; look up from your paper work immediately  and never say “NEXT”.

– Listen to the customer. You must always let the customer tell her story. Do not interrupt her, and listen intently until she is finished speaking.  Show her that you have been paying attention by paraphrasing her problem and assuring her you understand and intend to help.

– Phrases to avoid. An angry customer doesn’t do well with such stock phrases as: ” I only work  here,” “It’s against our store policy,” or probably the most annoying of them all, ” I’m only following the rules.” Never come back with one of those answers, but again assure the person you will do your best to solve their problem. If the problem can not be solved at the time, make sure you confirm with the customer when you will have an answer, and make sure you follow through with a response at the agreed upon time. Check out the Big List of Things Not to Say for more tips.

– If I cannot help. If for any reason you feel that you can not mitigate the complaint, it is acceptable to refer the customer to your supervisor, but make sure you give the customer their name and their contact information. What you never want to do is just push the complaint on to the next person, and not have the customer’s complaint resolved.

    Angry customers are always going to be around as are Monday mornings, but why not start the week off by helping your company keep its professional image and customers as well as you competently helping to resolve conflicts.

    photo credit: subew