Handling Upset Customers


Anyone who owns a business, small or large, will tell you that from time to time, they may deal with an upset customer.

Whether it was the wait time, the service, or the product itself, there are various reasons why someone may feel unsatisfied. And it’s up to you to resolve any issues in a gentle manner.

Here is a quick list of tips and tricks for handling upset customers:

Remain Calm

This one seems like common sense, but emotions tend to get the best of us. Don’t fight fire with fire. Hear out your customer. Make sure you are in control of the situation.

Play Therapist

We’ve all been there; Upset, angry, sad. And sometimes, all we want is someone to listen. You can quickly defuse a situation if the customer feels that you are being accommodating and sympathetic.

Briefly summarize what they discussed and ask if they need any further assistance. Make sure your body language reflects this, as a customer can read your movements in the wrong fashion.

Don’t Keep Them Waiting

I’m fairly sure we can all agree here; there is nothing worse than being put on hold. No one likes waiting, even if you were rockin’ out to the sick 80’s jams they use as holding music.

Just remember, the longer you keep a customer waiting for a response, the more time they have to think about how they should have gone somewhere else.

It doesn’t matter how busy it is, try to never answer the phone “So-And-So’s, Please hold!”. You’ve effectively just told the customer you don’t care about them before they even had a chance to speak. Ouch! Instead, get their name and ask if they mind being placed on a brief hold. Those two extra seconds you took to speak to them make all the difference.

If a customer does end up coming to you with a complaint, they will generally expect a response via phone and/or email within 24 hrs. Try to respond as quickly as possible, even if it’s just to tell them you’re looking into the issue. If they have to reach out to you twice, you can be sure they’ll think long and hard before coming back again.

Keep it Easy-Peasy

Jumping through hoops should be solely reserved for big fluffy dogs at the Eukanuba Dog Show; not so much for your customers.

Making it impossible to book a reservation, or having overly complicated return policies on retail items, forcing customers to press through multiple menus on the phone before they ever speak to a real person, or worse, uttering the words “that’s not my job” are nothing but a recipe for disaster.

Step back and look at some of the issues you’ve had to resolve in the past. Were there ways they could have been handled better? Are there any areas of your business you can streamline? Taking stock like this gives you the opportunity to improve before an issue arises, and can prevent future headaches for you and your customers.

Sometimes, all it takes is a smile.


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