Dealing with a dissatisfied customer can feel like being caught in a full-blown thunderstorm. But how can you calm them down?
Well, as a customer support agent, you have the power to turn a bad mood around.
Why are customers so angry?
Put yourself in their shoes. There could be plenty of valid reasons for customer rage.
Maybe a product they were excited about arrived defective or arrived late. Perhaps they’re having a bad day, and a product issue is the last straw.
Maybe the chatbot took too long to connect them to human support. Or, maybe, an agent mishandled a previous ticket.
None of what they say is personally directed at you.
Distance yourself from the outburst, let them get it all off their chest, and then try to de-escalate the situation.
Are they done?
Cool. You can now actually help the customer and build a better customer-brand relationship by doing so.
How should you handle an angry customer?
As a support agent, you must empathise with your customer without matching their mood or feeling provoked.
Remember the pufferfish that blows up when confronted with a threat?
Pufferfish are poisonous. Don’t be that pufferfish.
Although you should never tolerate an abusive customer. If you run into aggression, inform them you won’t assist them unless they alter their language.
For all other angry customers, keep exchanges in the friend zone.
Validate their feelings without blaming the company or sounding negative. Reassure them you can — and will — find a solution or offer a workaround.
(And then make sure you keep your word.)
5 things angry customers say (and how to respond)
Even if you don’t know why your customer is disgruntled, it’s on you to gruntle right back.
Since you can’t prescribe aromatherapy or meditational breathing, how do you get someone to calm down?
It’s all in what you say to them.
There are some replies you should under no circumstances give an angry customer. Even if it feels like a logical response to what they’re saying.
Instead, use the following ideas to restore peace and tranquillity to your customer interaction.
1. “This is the worst service ever.”
❌ INSTEAD OF: “Why don’t you go elsewhere? You’re the worst customer ever!”
✅ SAY: “I understand your frustration, and I’m sorry for the inconvenience. Let me try and get this fixed for you right away. I’m escalating your case to our technical team as a high priority. Please don’t worry, I’ll have you updated on this within 48 hours.”
2. “You really don’t get it, do you?”
❌ INSTEAD OF: “You aren’t making a lot of sense. Can you describe your problem clearly?”
✅ SAY: “I really appreciate your patience on this, and I’m sorry we haven’t resolved your issue as yet. Could you send me a screenshot showing the problem? I’d like to take a closer look so we can resolve this quickly and get you back on track as soon as possible.”
3. “I want to talk to your manager.”
❌ INSTEAD OF: “I’m sorry, that’s not possible. You can only talk to me.”
✅ SAY: “I understand why you’d want to talk to a supervisor. I want to get to the bottom of this too. But can you give me a chance to see what’s going on first? My job is to fix problems, and I’m sure I can find a solution for you. If I can’t, I’ll connect you with someone who can.”
4. “You’re a fraud. I want my money back.”
❌ INSTEAD OF: “We didn’t force you to buy our product. Next time read the instructions.”
✅ SAY: “I’m sorry to hear you’re unhappy with our product. Of course, we’ll gladly process your refund request. Or, I can replace the item free of charge plus throw in something extra as a gesture of goodwill on our part. Let me know what you prefer. I want to make this right for you.”
5. “I will post my story everywhere about your shitty company.”
❌ INSTEAD OF: “Sure, go ahead. We’re not even on social media, lol.”
✅ SAY: “I’m extremely sorry you had a terrible experience with us. We care about our customers, so it’s disappointing to hear you’re unhappy. Is there anything I can do to improve your experience with us? I understand how upset you are, and I apologise once again for the trouble.”
Remember, angry customers are a gift
Most upset customers don’t even call in to complain but simply stop shopping with a brand. This means the ones that do must care enough about your company to want to fix their experience.
This gives you a golden opportunity to convert them into happy, loyal customers.
All you need to do is respond with emotional intelligence.
Solve their issue respectfully and professionally. If you’re there for customers in their time of need, they’ll be more loyal to the brand.
After all, the customer has nothing against you personally. You’re just a sounding board for their frustration with a service or product.
Customers are reaching out to your company because they care. As a support agent, you’re the one who can care right back.