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The 3 best ways to handle an irate customer?

The first thing you need to do is to have the right perspective. How do you view your customer base? Do you think they actually are difficult customers? Or are you truly on their side and willing to figure out what happened and more importantly take action to wow them?

Excellent customer service starts with empathy (Can you see your customer's perspective)

This perspective should truly be a part of the company's DNA. Each department needs to have the customer's perspective in mind and have genuine empathy for their issues. A practical and easy way to implement this is to do 3 things well.

1 - Fast response time

2 - A complete solution from the first reply (Solve their problem, don't reply unless you have a solution)

3 - Do the unexpected (Customers have low expectations, do more than they expect and you will Wow them)

The bar for great customer service is so low, that simply executing these three things will lead to an amazing customer service experience. Doing this consistently will lower your overall customer complaints.

1 - How exactly do you deal with an angry caller or angry email? (Listen to them and trust your team members)

The best way to work with upset customers is to let them fully explain the issue and for you to really listen. Use the customer's name whenever you talk with them and build a real relationship. Letting a customer vent makes them feel heard because they are! From here, the best thing to do actually solve their problem.

You know you are doing it right when your customers leave reviews with your employee's names! (Have real customer relationships)

Do not send them to another department or transfer them. Most customer frustrations come from being passed around with no clear solution. Having a customer service representative that can take action and actually solve their problems is the most important part. Empower them!

If your reps need to get approval from a customer success manager, you have failed. I hope team members that you trust enough to make decisions that are best for your customers. Trust them and let them solve the problems, this will shorten the time to solution and improve customer experience.

2 - How do you improve customer service before a customer becomes an unhappy customer? (Improve your customer experience on a regular basis )

Anytime a customer reaches out via a phone call, email, or social media it is truly a good opportunity to wow them. The best approach is to listen to the dissatisfied customer and document their problem. It's really important to document their exact issue to see if there are any trends across your customer service teams.

For example: (Customer calls in with a shipment taking too long)

You ship products worldwide but notice that there are 15 documented complaints from customers in Hawaii. Your customer service manager can then review the complaints with the intention of fixing the root cause problem.

The manager did some research and found that their current shipping method is consistently delayed. Don't dispute the irate caller, but actually fix the core problem. Empowering your customer service reps to communicate and document issues is rare. Do this and you will already be a step ahead of your competition.

Lastly, you need a way to easily see trends to fix these consistent problems. Fixing these problems is the true first line of defense because it will reduce your customer service demand and create more satisfied customers.

You won't need to rely on the best customer service reps in the world but could offer a great experience with basic customer service skills.

3 - Measure the results (You can't hit your goals if you don't have one!)

Let me be clear, I don't want to believe in micro-managing or looking over the shoulder of my customer service team. I want them to be empowered to run free and solve customer complaints however they like. I do, however, want a way to see customer trends and overall satisfaction at a glance. I use a customer service platform that provides a happiness score with each reply.

The happiness score is a simple and clear way to see if customers are actually happy! I don't use this tool to manage employees unless there is a huge red flag, but I use it to see if those trends are significant enough to change something in the operations.

Using a tool like this also allows you the unique ability to follow up on a low happiness score. You can also dive into some of the emails to see if it is an abusive customer or if it is a simple miscommunication. A simple follow-up can turn irate customers into truly happy customers. Just take a deep breath before you send that follow-up email or phone call!

Your team members should act like business owners and feel like them too

The most important thing is the mindset and empowerment of the support team. If you have team members that are paid well, have health care benefits, and are left alone to do what they are paid to do. You usually have a great customer experience. Remember, the bar is so low for a good customer experience.

Specific skills I look for in a support member:

  • Ability to understand how a customer feels

  • Active listening (Listen and solve in any situation)

  • Ability to answer open-ended questions and have real conversations with customers even frustrated customers

  • Willingness to make a customer service video thanking customers for their order (this is super powerful)

  • Understand basic human nature and customer's emotions in a tense situation

The ultimate goal is simple: A customer service experience that does the unexpected.

This turns a rude customer into a raving customer. This turns a customer's anger into excitement. Having reps that can express sympathy and are willing to ask follow-up questions is at the core of a successful support team.

Check out specific examples of customer service teams killing it!

Let me know in the comments how you handle an Irate Customer.

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