How to Deal with Unhappy Customers

The holiday season brings good cheer and joy to many. But sometimes, the hustle and bustle of the season – the shopping trips, cooking, traveling and entertaining – can take a toll on all of us. Annoyances may come in the form of fighting crowds, but also in disappointing customer service. If you find yourself dealing with disgruntled customers, there are a few ways to make them feel a bit more merry this year.

First, smiling and referring to a customer by name are two easy techniques to melt an icy customer – whether it’s in-person or over the phone. As simple as it may sound, a smile changes the tone of a person’s voice completely and audibly enough to detect in a phone call. Surprisingly, 79 percent of the time, employees don’t ask for a customer’s name. Addressing customers and clients by name shows they are more than just one in a line of many, and that you understand they have unique issues to be resolved.

Remember to approach each challenging situation objectively. Be willing to take time to correct any mistakes or resolve issues. When customers turn to a company for help with an issue, it’s easy for the recipient of the message to take negative feedback personally. This is where being objective can save the situation. Take a step back and understand the customer is upset about a malfunctioning product or unsatisfactory service, not at you. Addressing the situation and allowing negative comments to slip by unnoticed will result in a more constructive meeting for both of you. Showing courtesy and a willingness to help will benefit both parties to diffuse the issue quickly.

As in any situation, asking strategic questions to gather relevant information improves efficiency when dealing with unhappy customers. Avoid asking only “yes” or “no” question when gathering information about a customer’s problem; instead, ask open-ended questions that allow them to feel heard and fully explain what they need resolved. After they express their concerns, repeat back what you heard to show you understand the issue in its entirety. Offer an appropriate apology. Seventy-five percent of customers feel more satisfied after receiving an apology and compensation rather than monetary compensation on its own. With the customer, define a solution that would improve their situation. This not only solves the issue, but it allows the customer and the customer service representative to communicate on the same level. Once a solution is agreed upon, follow up with the customer to see how they are doing.

Learning to deal with unhappy customers more effectively will save money for your company in the long run. U.S. companies lose $62 billion each year due to bad customer service experiences. Organizations miss out on so much by neglecting a single angry customer. Although interacting with upset customers can be unpleasant, when dealt with correctly, these experiences can be the determining factor in a customer’s life-long brand loyalty and return business.