Assume that the angry customer has a reasonable complaint. Most people just want to be treated fairly. Most issues can be resolved by earnest efforts to help obtain fair solutions.
Express empathy. The customer support representative (CSR) should ask herself how it probably feels to be in her customer’s position, and she should convey to him that she relates to the way he’s feeling.
Listen very carefully. The CSR should not interrupt the customer as he tells his story. She should make notes as he explains his concern, go over the points of his complaint with him afterward, and ensure that he is comfortable with her interpretation of his issue. Feeling that he is being fully heard and understood reassures the customer that his complaint is being met in good faith.
Express agreement. The CSR should partner with the customer to manage the process of clarifying the issue, determining an acceptable solution, and communicating about the steps that the CSR will undertake to implement the solution and to follow up on it.
Remember that it’s about the customer. Customer support employees who use a robotic persona or excessively acquiescent treatment do not inspire trust. These are disingenuous personas that project disrespectful attitudes. The CSR must not decide at any point that the customer is being too unfair to her and act defensively in attempt to persuade the customer to modify his attitude. The CSR’s challenge is to concentrate all of her resourcefulness on helping the upset customer get through the difficulty to a satisfying solution.
Focus on solutions. Through the customer’s expression of emotions, the CSR should be working to process the facts of the problem and determine what business actions should be taken to rectify the specific issues that have made the customer angry. She should communicate resolutely to the customer exactly what steps she is initiating to resolve the problem for him. She may also explain relevant steps of the company’s customer service workflow management and issue tracking processes if this information can be helpful to assure him of the professionalism with which his issue will be addressed. The CSR should ask the customer if the resolution makes sense to him and if he believes that the proposed solution will resolve the problem appropriately for him.
Express appreciation. The CSR should sincerely thank the customer for his willingness to allow the company to resolve the problem and emphasize to him how much he is valued as a customer.
Offer another contact. In some cases, the CSR may do everything right and yet be unable to alleviate the angry emotions that the customer is experiencing. Hearing similar information from a new person can offer relief for the customer by knowing that by obtaining input from a second representative he has done everything that he can reasonably do to ensure that he’s receiving the best available solution.
A bad customer is the one who just goes away unhappy without ever giving the company a chance to resolve his concern, taking his business elsewhere and telling other people about his negative experience. Angry or not, an unhappy customer who contacts customer service is a great customer. Achieving customer satisfaction in interactions these valuable angry customers is a critical business mission to be undertaken only by those representatives with the professional maturity to be effective with it.