With help from Eileen Goodwright and her article, "How to Be a Great Customer Service Representative," here are the steps to handling an angry client situation:
- Be Patient
It’s a virtue for a reason, but it’s difficult to master. You are going to come across your fair share of angry clients in your career and your patience level will be the make or break of the service you give them. A flustered client has a tendency to be unreasonable and, more than half the time, it seems as if the only reason she called you is just to release her frustrations by yelling. You need to have the patience to listen to everything she has to say until she gets it all out. Then and only then will she be willing to listen to you. If you interrupt and/or show you’re affected by her anger, that will be the death of any possible smooth outcome.
- Actually Listen
While it may seem like your client is inconsolable and that her main objective for reaching out was just to blow off steam, this isn’t the time to tune her out. You need to actively listen to everything she has to say. It's the only way you'll learn what went wrong, what steps she has taken to remedy the problem, and, potentially, what you can do to win back her trust. Imagine the outcome if, just when she got finished speaking, you asked her a follow-up question that she had already covered.
Once you do have the opportunity to speak, your client does not want to hear a string of excuses or an explanation of why you’re not to blame. The first thing she should hear is an apology. It doesn’t matter that your client may have just been rude to you, it doesn’t matter if there was nothing you could have done to prevent her problem. What matters is that you show her empathy. If you delay your service with anything but an apology, followed by an explanation of how you’re going to fix the problem, you are proving that your pride is more important than your clients are. Who would continue to work with you knowing that?
You’ve heard that a loyal client is more valuable than spending your energy attempting to acquire new ones. So, make solving your existing client’s problem your top priority. Do not push it to the wayside to deal with at a more convenient time. If you do not solve this problem in a timely manner, she will not stick around. How you handle the situation now will set the standard for how you’ll handle tough situations in the future. Prove to her that she and her business are a priority and get it solved.