When is the last time you dealt with an angry customer? For many that interact with the public on the job, angry customers are an all-too-regular part of business. You can’t engage in conflict with customers, no matter how upset they are – your main priority should be to diffuse the situation and help calm the customer down so you can work together to find a more useful solution.
To diffuse conflict with angry customers, you have to be in the right state of mind. That starts with not taking any insults hurled at you personally, but that doesn’t mean you should stand by and allow yourself to be berated or threatened by an angry customer. If things reach that point, you should state why the behavior is unacceptable and that it won’t be tolerated – then end the exchange immediately. Now – how to diffuse conflict with angry customers!
How to Diffuse Conflict with Angry Customers
Remove all traces of animosity from your customer service interactions when you use these tips to diffuse conflict with angry customers. Your customers will find that it’s hard to stay angry when the person assisting them is being so polite and helpful!
Diffuse conflict by declining to engage
“You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.” No matter how nasty or provoking the customer is being toward you, remember that they have something you don’t: A dog in this fight. You are just the figurehead for the customer to direct anger toward. It’s easier to decline to get involved in conflict with an angry customer when you remember that the customer is misdirecting anger toward you and that your role is to diffuse and resolve.
…But be attentive and listen to them vent
While the customer might be using an inappropriate method, their main goal when they anger-dial a company is usually to convey information about what went wrong. If you can be attentive and listen to the customer vent and rant about what went wrong, you can help come up with the right solution to smooth things over. If you simply tune them out, you’re no closer to finding a solution or helping calm the customer. It’s important to try to help resolve the situation, not just diffuse it.
Speak calmly and clearly
People are surprisingly adept at identifying the mood and tone of others’ speech, whether it’s in person or on the phone. While being yelled at or insulted is a shocking experience that naturally rouses anger and frustration, concentrate your efforts on keeping your own voice measured, controlled, and calm. You don’t have to grovel or be excessively friendly – in fact, an angry customer will see right through that. Just keep the contempt and frustration out of your voice to model the way you’d like to interact with the customer, and they just may follow suit.
Know how to properly apologize
You should know when it’s appropriate to apologize to an angry customer – and how to do it. We discussed the importance of using a sincere apology to help diffuse conflict in a recent blog post:
“In order to start effectively apologizing to customers, you must show that you understand the issue at hand, that you’re truly sorry, and that you’re not making excuses for what went wrong. Never ruin an apology with an excuse. You’re taking responsibility for the wrong and taking steps to make things right.”
To diffuse conflict with angry customers, you simply have to remain in control of the interaction by gently steering it where it needs to go. That means calming shouting customers and finding ways to work together to find a viable solution. If you can grit your teeth through a little difficulty, assisting a formerly dissatisfied customer can actually be a very rewarding task.