Five Tips for Dealing With Angry Customers


This holiday season is stressful for businesses struggling to stay afloat and for customers alike. With the added stress, we hope that we can band together and be kind to one another, but we will be likely run into at least one difficult or upset customer. One of the most uncomfortable and challenging situations as a business owner can dealing with a difficult or angry customer. However, using the proper techniques to resolve the problem can make it more comfortable for you to know how to address the customer and it can help you provide excellent customer service. The next time you’re faced with an upset customer, follow these five tips.

Listen to understand

It can be tempting when a customer is upset to get defensive, but if you don’t listen and demonstrate that you’re actively listening, it can escalate the situation. Let the customer express their thoughts and feelings and don’t interrupt them. Once you’ve heard them out, demonstrate that you have listened by using reflective listening. Reflective listening is the process of paraphrasing and restating both the feelings and words of the speaker. Reflective listening also helps you be more empathetic to the situation because it allows you to identify with the customer’s issue. Reflective listening goes beyond broad statements like “I understand” and instead shows that you understand by restating their problem and how it makes them feel. For example, you might say, “I understand that you feel very frustrated with the email that we sent out about our new policies” in this statement, you are reflecting the emotion they’re experiencing and their specific point of frustration that was expressed.

Remember your customers are people first

All of your customers are people, and people have terrible days and have other problems in their life outside of their interactions with you. Remember the times you have had a bad day and how you would want to be treated in that scenario, and think about how your customer might be feeling and what else they might have going on in their life. It can be difficult to extend grace in moments where people are upset, but that might just be when they need it most.

Act as if all your customers were watching

When it is just you dealing with a difficult customer, it can be easy to let your emotions get the best of you. To help focus your brain on responding appropriately, pretend as if your interaction is in front of all of your customers. Shifting your perspective to react as if your response is on display to all of your customers can help you think more clearly about your answers.

Ask questions to learn more about their feelings

If a customer’s frustration or concerns aren’t making sense to you, make sure you have all of the facts by asking probing questions to help get to the root cause. This doesn’t mean you should interrogate your customer, it means that you ask questions like:

  • Can you help me understand a bit more about what concerns you have?
  • How can I help you feel comfortable in moving forward with us?
  • What can we do to help alleviate some of your concerns?
  • Can you tell me a bit more about why you are apprehensive?

Summarize your action items or next steps

If you commit to action items or need things from the customer to rectify the situation, restate those expectations before you end the conversation. This restatement refocuses the discussion on the resolution and reminds both you and the customer of the next steps in resolving the issue. This is also a great way to naturally end a conversation with the customer in a way that shows them that you are ready to begin working on solving their issue. This should seem like a no-brainer, but, if you make promises and commit to next steps, be sure to follow through!