Customer Support with an Attitude: The Zen of Angry Customer Engagement

The weather has certainly been crazy this winter. The sun will shine for a little bit and the temperatures will be mild, then a cold front comes through and it rains, temperatures plummet, and the sun hides for the next two weeks. When the temperatures finally start to hint at going back up by a single degree, they crash even farther down while curious white stuff falls to the ground. Apparently it’s called snow, but I’m no expert (I’m down south as they say). Anyway, Mother Nature always has a way of making herself known in some form or fashion.

Angry customers are the same way. Not that they leave snow falling in their wake, but they have a tendency of expressing themselves in some colorful ways. Every business will occasionally have such customers and will certainly hear from them via phone and e-mail; so how do you deal with them?

A positive, calm attitude is the biggest and most vital element in the customer service arena. Without it, excellent customer service cannot be rendered. When an angry customer calls or sends a furious e-mail (or a “nasty-gram” as my friend puts it), do not take the anger personally or think the individual is overreacting. They are usually just angry at the situation and frustrated that they can’t fix the problem on their own despite their 1,001 attempts which may have caused even more damage.

The customer has had time to work up to a certain level of frustration by the time they call or send an e-mail to customer support. By the time your customer service department gets contacted, the customer is at wits’ end, so before you jump to fixing the issue, give the customer time to get it out of their system.

Maintain a calm attitude (breathe deeply, count to 10, find your happy place) and allow the customer to vent. Like gaskets about to burst, just release a bit of the pressure and catastrophe is avoided. Doing so lets customers know that someone cares enough to listen. Once they’ve vented, they are so much easier to work with. The problem can be quickly fixed without having to repeat questions over and over and over again because the customer was still deaf with frustration.

Angry customers are never fun to deal with, but they do come along and when they do, the best customer service departments will have calm and sympathetic agents who can diffuse tense situations simply through their courteous demeanor.

Actually, that is a policy which we would all do well to employ everywhere.

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