Anyone who has ever worked closely with clients or patrons has had the displeasure of dealing with an irate customer. More likely however, you’ve dealt with them many times. With a good percentage of these unpleasant encounters resulting from a client that’s just obnoxious or unreasonable, it can be very easy to want to discard the situation entirely and move on. This is, however, an impulse, and ultimately a mistake!
There are plenty of upset consumers who have a valid reason for being so, and risking the loss of an otherwise great client is never worth the brief and easy satisfaction of tossing their complaints aside. To figure out when a consumer’s anger is valid, you need to be able to look at things from their point of view.
Understand Your Client’s Point of View
There are certainly situations in which a client is being entirely unreasonable, and despite who is at fault, always remember this: you don’t have to tolerate abuse in order to appease a client! With that said, it’s always worth hearing what a client has to say, and it’s worth exercising your ability to be empathetic in order to understand what the client is going through.
Remember that a client gets mad or frustrated because of a failure in service, which could include:
- Loss of money or services outside of their ability to control
- Dealing with another member of your team that was rude or unhelpful
- A long period of time in which they should have received service, but did not
Before responding to the irate client, take a deep breath and put yourself in their position. If you had to endure these situations, you would likely be upset as well (that still doesn’t justify their behavior, but it does help you empathize). The service failure may well not be your fault, but they’ve come to you seeking a solution. As long as providing that is reasonable and within your power, it’s not too much to ask.
Ways to Deal with an Upset Client
You’re enduring their anger or sarcasm, but what do you do to break the storm? Use these basic guidelines when dealing with an upset customer. They’ll help you to understand the client’s frustration, and then determine the best course of action:
- Listen - It can be hard to listen to someone’s anger when they’re taking it out on you, but without letting them be heard you’ll never get anywhere. Remember, you don’t have to take abuse, but being heard is often what many angry customers want, so the best place to start is to simply open your ears!
- Empathize - Help the client understand that you hear their concerns or frustrations, and that you’re dedicated to helping them solve the problem.
- Determine validity - Once they’ve calmed and you’ve heard them out, it’s time to figure out how to solve the problem. If the solution is within your capability, provide what they need in order to resolve their issue.
- Refer the issue - If the problem is not within your ability to handle, never hesitate to refer the situation to a manager or the correct authority! You should also feel comfortable doing this if the client cannot be calmed, or if they are treating you poorly. You can be placating, but you should never be a punching bag.
Understanding and being able to diffuse a client’s anger can be extremely valuable, both as a skillset and simply as a way to minimize your own stress. The next time you’re dealing with an irate customer, use these tips in order to calm your client down and resolve the problem!