Dealing with Angry and Upset Customers:
Making Things Right When Customers Have Been Wronged

Most customer-relations issues have nothing to do with when things "go right" with a transaction or when service is excellent.  Go into any restaurant, and if the manager is called over to a table, all employed eyes are on that table to see "what happened".  Nine out of ten times, the customer will have a complaint of some sort.

If you are in a service-related position or in sales, here are some tips to help you diffuse angry or upset customers:

  1. Say "I'm sorry".  Nothing is better or more effective than admitting when you've made a mistake.  But don't stop there—make sure you go on to see how you can fix the problem as quickly as possible.
  1. Seek to understand.  Understanding where the breakdown in communication was will help you more quickly and effectively fix the problem at hand.  Listen carefully to the customer's issues, document them, and do your best to fix the problem as quickly as possible.  Ask them how they want it resolved, instead of offering your idea of what you could do to fix the issue.
  1. Determine best course of action.  Once you have ascertained how you can fix your mistake (and remember, it was your organization's mistake at best that likely caused the problem, so it is your responsibility to fix it), set in place an action plan to ensure this is taken care of quickly.
  1. Follow up.  Ensure the customer is completely happy with the results.  Go back to them after you have attempted to fix the problem and see if they are happy with what you have done.  If not—then tweak your approach and try again.  Above and beyond all else, you need to make sure your customer is happy—so do what it takes to ensure this happens.  There is nothing that costs more than losing a customer.
  1. Review customer care process.   Does your staff do an effective job in caring for customers?  How can you help resolve this to ensure the customers are well taken care of?  Review your process and tweak as necessary to ensure the process works well.  This will help alleviate any future negative customer publicity and will hopefully help you to establish your organization as one that takes great care of its customers.

Regardless of the type of customer interaction you have, remember that you are representing the company in which you serve.  Your actions will dictate future business, so make sure that your customers are happy -- not just satisfied.  Satisfied customers will shop your competition for better service.  Happy customers will not.

Information is for educational and informational purposes only and is not be interpreted as financial or legal advice. This does not represent a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any security. Please consult your financial advisor.