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Customer Service Mindset When Facing Angry Customers

Updated on January 9, 2014
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I'm a dad, husband, and Christian first. The rest is just life's add-ons: an educator, administrator, learning & development professional.

How do you deal with the wrath of an angry customer?
How do you deal with the wrath of an angry customer? | Source

Facing an irate customer can be a daunting task. Even a seasoned customer service representative can buckle under pressure. This underscores the importance of the proper customer service training to handle difficult situations like an angry customer.

Learning how to deal with angry customers should be part of any customer service training before any job deployment. This ensures that they are equipped with the right skills in such a difficult situation. But the truth is no amount of training can truly prepare someone for the barrage of tactless words – and in some cases dangerous behaviors.

This is not personal

Although the rude words are directed at you, remember that this is not a personal attack. Of course if the reason is something you did (or forgot to do) then that’s a different matter. But generally, angry customers are complaining about their situation.

The moment you detach yourself from the person’s anger, the easier it is for you to manage and resolve the situation.

Excellent customer service strategy:

  • Focus on the client’s need
  • Unravel the root cause of the concern
  • Focus on resolving issues rather than dwelling on rude choices of words
  • Communicate clearly

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Have the genuine desire to help and resolve the problem

A customer service representative with the genuine desire to help has a better chance of resolving customer complaints. The innate desire to provide customer assistance is the basic fuel to go beyond what is expected. In addition, going beyond expectation is the true measure of excellent customer service.

Excellent customer service strategy:

  • Explore alternative tactics to resolve customer complaints
  • Ask help from other co-workers when needed
  • Understand that resolving issues will help improve customer satisfaction
  • Apologize for the inconvenience that the customer is experiencing
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Show sincerity to resolve the concern

Be calm
Be calm | Source

Be calm and patient always

Learning how to deal with angry customers require learning how to be calm and patient. Unfortunately, this is not inherent in many people. However, with a little practice one can actually exhibit restrain and a level head to deal with the situation effectively.

Excellent customer service strategy:

  • Speak calmly and slowly
  • Maintain a neutral tone – avoid high-pitch tones that can be misconstrued as aggression
  • Listen attentively
  • Focus on important information and not on rude words or gestures

How do you manage your anger?

See results

Be proactive, not defensive

Being defensive is a common reaction when confronted with an angry customer. In many cases, customer service representatives give excuses to justify what has happened. Instead opt for a more proactive attitude.

Excellent customer service strategy:

  • Ask what the customer wants
  • Offer solutions rather than excuses
  • Suggest alternative action plans you are willing to do for the customer
  • Explain what you intend to do so the customer will understand and know what to expect
  • Give a timeframe (when possible) for your actions and outputs
  • Endorse the customer to someone who can address their concern if you are not equipped to provide the solution
  • Ask relevant questions to get more information
  • Take note of important details and summarize it for clarification

The survival of a customer service representative and the ultimate resolution of customer complaints depends on the representative’s mindset. When customer service representatives know how to deal with angry customers, business will prosper.

Of course, not every customer can be pleased. Moreover, not all customer complaints can be fully resolved. What is important is that customer service representatives acquire the right mindset when dealing with irate customers. This will help turn a potentially volatile situation into a full-blown crisis.


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    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi M. Orteza,

      In spite of that, the sales person handled the situation in a positive way.

    • profile image

      M. Orteza 4 years ago

      The lady in the video looks scary.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello H.Agosto,

      Of course, I'm happy to assist. But keep in mind that one training is usually not enough. Handling angry customers is more of an attitude and behavior training than just learning a list of what to do.

    • profile image

      H.Agosto 5 years ago

      Many of our customer representatives do not know how to handle angry customers. Can you help us train them?

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello superpipoy,

      Customer complaint is one thing, angry customers is another. being able to defuse the situation is important. I'm glad this hub will be sueful to you.

    • superpipoy profile image

      superpipoy 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this helpful information about hiw to approach an irrate customer. As a customer service representative, this information can be of advantage to me.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello denisemai,

      As long as we are part of the company we are help liable for whatever problems the customers face. it can be unfair but that's how it goes. Keeping a level head is always important. Thanks for your insights.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      hello lovedoctor926,

      Sometimes it is better to talk to the right person - managers or supervisors. Customer service representatives can only do so much. Their power to decide is limited.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello tammyswallow,

      Sometimes it's easy to simple match the level of anger of clients. But this is a detrimental course of action.

      I'm sure your experience with patients with mental illness has taught you more patience. I know it can be really stressful.

    • denisemai profile image

      Denise Mai 5 years ago from Idaho

      Great tips. I used to work at a daily paper. Readers sometimes get very angry and will come to the office and confront employees --even if they do not work in editorial. So, all of us were trained to deal with angry people. It's an important life skill. Like you wrote, lowering your voice and remaining calm was recommended. Also, we were told to never tell them to calm down as that just escalates them. Nice hub. Thumbs up.

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 5 years ago

      This is very good advice. When dealing with an angry customer, you need to remain calm and lower your voice as much as possible even if they are screaming from the top of their lungs. It's their problem, not yours. Most of the time they aren't angry at you. Maybe they woke up on the wrong side of the bed or something, but anyway to make the long story short, it's important that you get a manager or supervisor ASAP.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Excellent tips. I used to work with the menatally ill. I was taught that when a mentally ill person is upset to talk very quietly and they will quit yelling. It works. Well written!

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi there MelChi. Thanks for reading and sharing your insights on the subject. One research I read said that 92% of complaining customers will go back to your business if customers reps just apologize. Humility is important in customer service.

      the Vote up is also appreciated. See you around.

    • MelChi profile image

      Melanie Chisnall 5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      This is really excellent advice. Keeping calm and not getting defensive is definitely not something easy - but it is very necessary. No matter the situation, the client is always right (they're the ones paying your salary). Sincerely apologizing - even when it's not your fault, and giving the client clear feedback on how each step of the complaint is going to be handled and by when, I find is the best way to calming down a customer, and making them feel that they're not just a number. Voted up!

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello Arthur. It's definitely hard not to take it personal. That's why it takes so much patience and practice to thrive in a customer service industry. Just remember that irate guests are angry at the situation and not with you...unless of course it was your fault. :)

    • profile image

      Arthur Dacena 5 years ago

      It's hard not to take it personal. Some guest usually make comments about my capabilities even though they don't know me. Some even make racial remarks and that can hit a nerve.