Customer Service Blog from HelpCrunch

How to Deal with Angry Customers: 9 Need-to-Know Tactics

We've come up with these 9 perfect tactics to make your customer service life a little bit easier.

Written by Olesia Melnichenko

How to Deal with Angry Customers: 9 Need-to-Know Tactics

Satisfied clients who don’t have questions left after chatting with a support agent can only exist in your dreams (or not?). Everyone has a different temper, background, and needs. Believe it or not, service means dealing with both pleased and angry people in the best possible way. If the first category of customers leaves a positive impression afterward, the second one may require breathing techniques after an interaction. 

Irritated clients are the unavoidable reality of business anyway. In fact, 91% of unhappy clients will simply leave a company and never come back. So, customer service representatives should make an effort to meet their expectations. 

Managing annoyed customers can be daunting, but with the right tips and tactics, you’ll be prepared for any situation that comes your way. This post will tell you how to deal with angry customers using some tried-and-tested techniques (worthwhile expert opinions from various industries are also included!). 

The formula of an angry customer

Understanding the reasons is the first step in dealing with rude customers. Are you interested in what happens in the minds of those clients who are always having a bad day? Let’s take a closer look at this. 

Anger is a natural feeling that arises when we consider a situation unfair. It’s often described as a secondary emotion — a self-protective reaction to either pain or fear. Clients often feel misled when something doesn’t work as anticipated, which brings in anger. But this is only a part of the equation. Why don’t we break down some other factors that make a huge difference?

  • Product problems: Emotions will overflow if your product or service doesn’t do what customers thought it would. The gap between customer expectations and the reality you offer appears. 
  • Support mishaps: It happens. Why? People wait for an answer for too long or have previous negative experiences or unresolved issues with another brand. They transfer every bad luck into your product subconsciously. 
  • Little respect for customer’s time: A client loses precious time a) contacting a company, b) navigating through a company’s website searching for answers, and c) talking to different support agents who put them on hold. Sure, these obstacles make customers angry. To omit these problems, test a shared inbox. It ensures your clients never face delays again and helps your customer service team collaborate better. 

Satisfied customers and angry ones are the source of valuable insights. If you avoid dealing with them, you lose out on a great learning opportunity. Your aim should be to learn as much as possible from those disgruntled people and frame your business decisions. 

9 Tips on How to Deal with Angry Customers with the Right Bend of Mind

When you’re chatting with an upset client, the critical aspects of your interaction should be staying even-keeled and professional. The way you handle dissatisfied customers has a tremendous impact. Let’s walk you through the process of dealing with angry customers:

#1 Let customers have their say

OMG, here comes a customer full of anger. What should you do? Should you attack first? Or apologize for every sin? Neither will do. First, take it easy and show your superb communication skills. People tend to get angry, which is a common thing. Just listen.

The point is that you should concentrate on what a customer tries to tell you. Stay engaged, withhold judgment, and use positive language. Here are a few tips to start a conversation smoothly:

  • Begin with a neutral phrase: “Let’s discuss what happened,” or “Please share why you’re upset.” 
  • Be empathetic: Jacob J. Sapochnick, the founder of Sapochnick Law Firm, explains that ‘the number one technique in dealing with angry customers is showing empathy. This will help your clients be calm and communicate with you effectively‘. So, take yourself out of the equation and don’t consider such situations as personal attacks. 
  • Show understanding: Mention the customer by name, summarize all their bad experiences, and ask follow-up questions. These tactics demonstrate your honest involvement.   

#2 Offer real-time and proactive support

This is a tough one, as your instinct may be to run away once you face an angry customer. Well, it isn’t a perfect idea to deal with demanding clients. If you answer angry customer complaints immediately, people are likely fired up about their questions and unwilling to listen to anything you’re about to say. 

To prevent clients from losing self-control, consider proactive customer service as a valuable weapon in your arsenal. Take the initiative and offer your help before an issue even comes up. This way, you won’t make clients feel unappreciated and forgotten about. They will notice your commitment to providing a positive customer experience.

The platform you use to reach people also determines your response time. Live chat may be your top choice if you are searching for a user-friendly customer communication tool to provide faster resolutions. It’s considered one of the fastest out there, which is crucial if you want your support to be exceptional. 

Another possible option here is social media or broadcast emailing. Use your Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to inform your users about future service breakdowns or to deal with angry customer tweets. This is how Amazon or Netflix works. Once they notice technical problems, they warn the users in advance.

#3 Keep your cool 

As the well-known idiom goes, be ‘as cool as a cucumber‘, which is also the Number One approach to customers you should follow when you face real people who turn on their caps lock voice. Your initial reaction sets the whole tone of your customer interaction. Remember chat etiquette rules, and don’t fall back on a fight or flight mode. It’s the wrong approach for a proper customer service mindset.

David Cusick, CSO in House Method, claims that ‘when dealing with an angry customer, you should soften and repeat what they said before adding your own response. An angry client often goes a mile a minute with complaints, which means it’s difficult to get to the root of the problem‘. 

He adds that if you’re into customer service, just breathe: ‘Give yourself the time and space you need to calm a person down. When they make a complaint or comment, take the time to ensure you heard them correctly, using a soft, placating, professional tone. Getting the angry customer to say “yes” and feel understood helps unravel those tensions and move you both toward an agreement‘. Just like that, breathe in and breathe out.

#4 Practice reflective listening

Once you establish contact with a person, hearing and realizing customer complaints is only half the battle. People are vulnerable when they show their emotions. Just saying something like ‘I understand you’ may sound too weak. Here’s when reflective thinking comes into the picture. 

Chris Brenchley, Co-Founder and CEO of Surehand, recommends adopting this technique. He says that repeating the people’s problems and then asking them what THEY think can be done about their bad customer experience to make THEM feel better makes you halfway towards the solution. 

Dylan Max, Head of Growth at Netomi, expressed a similar point of view: ‘Sometimes, repeating what customers told you can be a helpful way to communicate that you are on the same page. Once a person knows you understand the problem, you’ll need to be clear about how you will solve it. Concisely outline the steps you will take to solve their problem‘.

I can’t help but agree with these expert opinions, as angry customers help a business improve. Yes, that’s right. The more negative customer experiences you treat, the more your product or service improves. That’s why active listening and thinking ahead are imperative. 

#5 Kill them with kindness

This tip is my favorite one. Responding to anger with anger is always a bad idea. Nick Chlumecky, Customer Service Lead at QuillBot, says: ‘Don’t get angry. I’m not going to pretend that’s easy because people can be very frustrating and/or rude to you, but getting mad, even if the customer is in the wrong or being unreasonable, just justifies them to get angrier and makes the difficult situation even worse‘. 

Mutual rage erases that fine balance between you and a customer so that nothing good can happen. If a client is angry, kill them with kindness. The secret is as simple as ABC: be sincere, respectful, and understanding. By controlling your anger, you’ll notice that a person will ease up a little. 

David Bakke, Customer Service Expert at National Air Warehouse, has an excellent opinion on this point. He adds the word ‘firm‘ to kindness. You have the upper hand if you keep your temper in line when dealing with difficult customers. David recommends asking a client ‘to explain their complaint and respond with sympathy‘. His example of the return policy on a product could not be bettered. 

Imagine that your customer is asking for a refund two months later (and a return policy says it should be a month). You can explain possible solutions to that client without sacrificing company rules. David says you should be careful with unsatisfied customers — as some are genuinely angry, and others are feigning anger to get a response, which is something that they know they don’t deserve. 

#6 Be apologetic

Piecing together an effective and sincere apology may be challenging. However, to turn your angry customers into long-term ones, you must own up to your mistakes. Apologizing publicly, responding promptly, and offering an incentive usually makes customers satisfied and go a long way.

The attitudes mentioned above are only the tip of the iceberg. The critical components of an apology are:

  • Expression of regret
  • Acknowledgment of responsibility
  • Make restitution
  • Request for forgiveness
  • Plan for change

As the VP of Marketing & Sales at Boster Biological Technology CJ Xia states, ‘Don’t wait for the legitimacy of the complaint. You need all your current customers, and your apology will express that you care for them, and you’ll definitely do something that pleases them, or at least their request will get heard‘. And I totally agree with this thought.

The founder of an online course platform Coursemethod, Lisa Parmley, has shared with us her tips on how to deal with angry customers and say sorry:

  • Apology: I’m very sorry you did not receive the registration email’; 
  • Solution: ‘But I have your login details for you here‘;
  • Further assistance: ‘Please let me know if you have any further trouble getting logged in’.

Besides, Lisa’s company practices a color-coded tiered system to sort out customer emails with negative language. They try to answer the ‘red’ ones first and appease people before it’s too late. You can adopt these practices and see the difference.

#7 Use three magic ‘F’ words

If you’re flustered when dealing with rude customers, take advantage of three powerful words, starting with an F. Everything is easier than you might think. In his bookFive Star Service: How to deliver exceptional customer service,’ Michael Heppel introduces an example of ‘magic words’ that will level down a stressful interaction with an angry client:

  1. Feel
  2. Felt
  3. Found

When handling angry customers, use Michael’s three-step approach: ‘I understand you may feel unhappy about that, I would have felt the same. But after checking, I found that we have one of the longest money-back guarantee periods compared to other shops…’.

#8 Closing out the conversation

Alright, you’ve navigated the storm, and now it’s time to wrap it up. Closing the conversation effectively is crucial—it’s the last impression you leave, and we want it to be a good one.

  1. Summarize the solution: Repeat what you’ve discussed and the solution you’ve agreed upon. This ensures everyone’s on the same page and provides a sense of closure.

Example: “So, just to make sure we’re clear, we’ll be processing a refund for the defective item, and it should reflect in your account within 3-5 business days.”

  1. Express gratitude: Thank them for bringing the issue to your attention and for their patience. It goes a long way in showing you appreciate their time and understand their frustration.

Example: “I really appreciate you reaching out to us about this. We understand how frustrating it must have been, and we’re grateful for your patience as we worked through it.”

  1. Confirm future assistance: Let them know you’re here if they need further assistance. It’s a little reassurance that you’re not just disappearing after the problem’s been addressed.

Example: “If you have any more questions or if there’s anything else we can assist you with in the future, feel free to reach out. We’re here to help!”

  1. Provide contact information: Remind them how to contact you or your team if they have more questions or concerns. Make it easy for them to reach out again if needed.

Example: “If you ever need assistance in the future, you can reach us at [email] or call our dedicated support line at [phone number].”

  1. Ask for feedback: Invite them to share their thoughts on the resolution process. It’s not just about satisfying the current issue but also improving your service for the future.

Example: “Your feedback is invaluable to us. If you have a moment, we’d love to hear about your experience and how we can improve it next time.”

Even if the start was rocky, a smooth and considerate close can turn a frustrated customer into a satisfied one. So, go ahead, wrap it up professionally, and pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

#9 Follow up like a pro

The goal of any customer support agent should be more than just solving a problem at hand. The real measure of success is dealing with an angry customer situation even after the job is done. 

Some businesses are in a hurry to close tickets. To cement customer relationships, check in with them in several days to ensure everything is OK. Ask such a straightforward question as ‘Are you satisfied with the solution?’. You can send an email, a real gift certificate, or give a follow-up call. Such steps show that you care and are ready to go the extra mile.   

It’s also critical to carefully choose gratitude words in your follow-up speech. A simple ‘Thank you’ or ‘Contact us any time’ will be perfect. If writing bunches of messages every time is daunting for you, test email automation and set up your follow-ups to hit your customers at the right time.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with angry customers isn’t always as easy as it may sound. Don’t lose your mind, take a quick break: go for a walk, have a cup of coffee, or do anything else to step back. Trust me: it’s better than solving an unhappy customer’s issue being on edge.  

Above all, the most effective way to ensure your team handles angry clients and their concerns is using an all-in-one customer communication platform that can help keep track of everything. Sign up for HelpCrunch, test its ultimate features, and be always prepared when an angry customer knocks on your door.

Olesia Melnichenko
Olesia was born in Donetsk, Ukraine. She's been a proud HelpCrunch content writer for three years. Her experience encompasses positions like an SEO copywriter, a marketing specialist, and a customer support assistant to a flight booking platform. Olesia's portfolio includes dozens of articles on customer service, marketing, and sales both for the HelpCrunch blog and other niche-related online resources. Now, she is a self-learning Spanish student who never misses out on the opportunity to replenish her vocab in three languages (English, German, and Spanish).
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