How to calm an angry customer down in less than 30 seconds

“Come, let’s punish the floor”, said Mama to the injured child…
Kids slip and fall all the time, don’t they? They often lose balance while running or walking and fall down. And they get hurt and cry.

What does Mama do? She rushes to the kid and says, “Oh Sweetie, let me see your hand. Oh did the floor do that to you? Come, let us punish the floor”. Sometimes she even speaks to the floor, “Here, how dare you injure my child! Take that, and that and that!”

Now Mama knows that the floor was harmless. The kid just lost his balance. But making the floor the “villain” stopped the kid from wailing! Once he stopped wailing, it was easier for Mama to treat the injury.

Sometimes when you have an angry customer, you have to talk to the floor and punish it too…

Because most of the time an angry customer is in no position to rationalize or reason with you. Can you give a discourse to a wailing child that it was because he lost his balance that he fell on the floor? Maybe you can, but he will not understand – and only wail harder.

Similarly, trying to talk reason into an angry customer will not work. If the customer is yelling at you, take the blow as it comes. Eventually, the anger will subside. Then you can deal with the issue and heal the injury. In fact there are 6 easy steps.

6 steps to handle an angry customer

1.Owning the problem
Let us say your customer Mary Smith walks into your office with a problem and blames you. Apologize. But do not stop there! Remember, we are not playing the “you started it!” game here. Even if you were not directly involved, you still own the business – so it might help if you own the problem as well and look at solving it objectively. In this case, you are the “floor”. You are the villain. Take all the beating you get!

As soon as you let her know that you take responsibility, a major part of the problem is solved. The secret to calming the customer down in less than 30 seconds is to do nothing except just actually listen to her without interrupting her.

2. Differentiate between the head and the heart
Wait till the customer’s anger subsides. After making sure that her head is involved and not her heart, you can start discussing her problems. Respect her emotions; you do not get emotional! The worst thing to do is yell back at her!

3. Show her that you care
Show her testimonials left by happy clients. Show her how you helped solve similar problems in the past. Make notes when she is talking and get the details right. It would reassure her that you are indeed serious about fixing the issues.

4. Make specific promises
Do not give out random sugar coated promises. Be specific. For example, if you want her to come back for a meeting, tell her exactly when and where. Avoid the usual “our office doors are always open to you” sort of lines. You know they are not. Instead you can tell her, “Please come to our office Thursday, 4.30 pm. Mr. Johnson will be able to help you”. Specifics. Make promises only when you mean to keep them.

5. Fix the issue
Suggest solutions and discuss them with her. Be ready with alternatives. Constantly reassure her that you will make it all right. Fix the issue.

6. Follow up, follow up
Follow up without fail. You could send a personal message or phone her after a few days to make sure that everything is all right!

When you reassure her, you make her feel less insecure about doing business with you. When you attempt the above steps, she feels safer. So when your customer has an issue, think of her as a child that slipped and fell. You will know what to do.

How did you deal with your angry customer? Do you have something to add to this? Share it with us and post your comments below!

Aravind Kumar

Aravind co-founded Integra and manages the company’s operations from its global delivery center in Coimbatore, India. He is the brain behind the company's IT strategies and infrastructure. His knowledge and experience working with large corporations such as Yahoo India, Rediff, and Honda prove to be instrumental to the company’s progress. He would be able to help you with your business troubles too! Drop him a line or two!

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