How can I turn an angry customer into a loyal customer?
I do not deal well with confrontation. My first instinct when I get a customer complaint is to ignore it and let them go. (Terrible approach, I know!) This is something I need to work on, and the best way for me to do this is to face our angriest customers. We just launched and have had our ups and downs. Instead of letting those customers go, I want to turn their experience around. What's the best way to approach them and change their mind? Thank you!
Becca the good thing is that you know this is an issue for you. I do agree that for you, facing your angriest customers (and thus your fear) is a good way to go. However I suggest you do not do this with the goal of changing their minds. Rather I suggest you approach them in hopes of understanding their frustration, anger, etc. By approaching them with genuine concern you not only stand a chance of remedying the situation but also of recognizing first hand that conflict is also an opportunity. Go for it!
We do a lot of work with handling conflict effectively. Conflict is inherently about situations where you and another person are not on the same page. What makes it tricky for us as people is usually the emotions that go along with it. It is not unusual to avoid confrontation (we all fall into one of 5 categories: avoid, accommodate, compete, compromise or collaborate - for more information you can check out the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Model). The trick is to know where you start naturally (it sounds like you are an avoider) and start working towards being able to get to 'collaborate' with anyone in any situation.
To get to the point where conflict is easier for you (it may never be comfortable but we can make it easier to handle) there are two things to work on:
1. The skills of constructive dialogue, how to diffuse anger and raise issues in a way that doesn't negatively impact someone or escalate an already tense situation.
2. Your mental view of conflict and anger, which frankly, can be harder to tackle. Those of us that avoid or accommodate in conflict situations tend to imagine scenarios and have 'conversations with ourselves' like "this is going to be awful" or something like that. To be effective you need to work past whatever mental barrier you have up to the conversation in the first place.
In your case, it sounds like you have a good starting point - you recognize the very good reasons for handling any conflict with customers, which will give you a reason to stick with it. I would start paying attention to the things you say to yourself when confronted by an angry customer so you can learn to shut those comments off.
Now we have to make handling irate or unhappy people less difficult for you so that the benefits of having the conversation outweigh the discomfort you feel having them.
Here are my top 5 tips:
1. Find a positive saying that works. When you get a complaint, you need to stop whatever is going on in your head in the first place. Picking a positive focal point can help e.g. "I am going to make this person a champion" or simply "I can do this". It will be better if the saying directly speaks to whatever drives your reason to avoid conflict. I'd need to understand more about you to help with that, but hopefully, that's clear. It may sound 'fluffy' or 'mumbo jumbo' but I promise you when you find the right phrase - it works.
2. Identify emotion as a sign of importance, not about you. All emotions are good or bad, are signs that something is really important to someone. Think of them as indicators of how much this person really wants to share and wants help. The angrier I am, the more I need someone to help me resolve my problem. It's not anger AT YOU. Even if it might feel that way. You have the power to make someone's day when they are that irate...
3. Label, empathize and offer to help. Labelling emotions helps us and more importantly others. Start to manage their emotions. So saying "I can see how frustrated you are" flags to that person that they are coming across as frustrated, and they (normally) start to come down a few notches. If you can add "I am sorry that you are so frustrated, let's see how I can help" can take it down a notch further.
4. Listen and explore. In my opinion, it is rare that you can't do ANYTHING to help someone. The important part is to listen enough and explore enough to find out HOW you can help. Plus, the act of listening usually allows the person to vent, and talk through the emotion until they can get to a better place. Be aware though, it takes some people longer to vent than others! Focus on just understanding what they are trying to tell you. What is the issue? Why do they feel as strongly? You can empathize without affirming - "That does sound challenging" or "I can understand how you must have been upset by that". None of those comments put the issue anywhere, they are just part of listening. Playback the issues as you understand them so that they feel heard.
5. Do what you can to help. Sometimes there isn't much you can do, but be clear about what you can. If you can't do more, explain why. Again, without specific scenarios here its hard to share suggestions, but for my business, if something we have done has caused frustration, I want to do something to set that right, even if I can't change the original issue. Don't get defensive about why something happened, that doesn't really matter. Your focus is on how can I help this person walk away feeling better in a way that doesn't compromise my needs either.
Ok, so that's really long! Lol but it's hard to capture the training we do in a short reply! If you want to give me call, please do. In any case, good luck and I applaud you tackling something difficult for you!
So impressed by your self awareness and desire to engage in conflict when it is very uncomfortable for you, Becca.
Your thinking is also sound business strategy.
Most displeased or angry customers just want to know you care about their feelings, just like you and I hope people care about our feelings when we're dissatisfied or upset.
The best approach is to listen, choose not to get defensive, show them you heard them by paraphrasing their complaint back to them and asking if you got it right (so you know you are solving the right problem), reassuring them you want to help them (this greatly reduces stress and anger once they realize you're on their team, value them as a customer and human being (we all want that, right?), and are going to work with them.
You can ask them what would solve the problem for them. It might be different than you anticipate and even less challenging or less costly. Be patient with them, reassure them again if necessary and model the poise you would like them to feel and exhibit back to you.
Problem solve with them, even offering choices if you can't give them exactly what they desire. You may be able to completely satisfy them most of the time but maybe not always.
If people feel heard, understood, respected, valued and helped (mitigating their pain), they can usually, even if not happy, accept some pain.
Do this and you will repair a lot of conflicts, heal relationships, show off your customer service and brand and win back or build relationships and profit. If you repair customer dissatisfaction you may so impress that they laud you to family, friends, on social media and be a repeat customer.
When you are not comfortable when dealing with irate customers and try to avoid it then it is natural to dislike problems. When you learn to turn those unhappy customers into one of your biggest fans you might find you actually enjoy it. Some of our biggest advocates are guys who at one time were calling us everything under the sun.
When we get an unhappy customer we listen to them, empathize with them, admit our mistake and give them a sincere apology. We tell them how much the feedback helps us to improve and that even though we wish they didn't have a problem we are glad they took the time to tell us about it. We then do whatever it takes to fix the problem. Sometimes it is pretty expensive but it is far less expensive than having an unhappy customer or a customer suing you.
I did a trade show a couple of weeks ago and as I was talking to a potential customer another guy came up behind him, tapped him on the shoulder and told my prospect that if he is thinking about the kind of product we have he should buy it from us. He then added he had a problem when he bought from us and we bent over backwards to take care of it and that our customer service is fantastic. He then added once we fixed the problem our equipment worked great. Someone who has had a problem that was handled well will be your biggest fan,
This can be challenging to confront a angry person. If one reacts at the same tone or temperament as the upset customer, than that will surely escalate the
situation. First of all is to not take the conversation personal. perhaps this customer has very valid points that can help your company in the long run; and second, if the customer is upset than listening to them and stating how you could agree with them will go a long, long way.
Becca, Give them what they want, listen to them, don't shout at them. If you give them what they want they will be happy. And if you think you cannot do that, the best thing is to take a leave from work for some weeks and hire a professional to help you deal with them. Before you come back, they will shake you with a smile in their face because they got what they want.
But make sure you hire someone you can trust that will not go away with your clients
When faced with angry customers our initial instincts are to ignore, none of us like confrontation but its always good to remember that whilst they may go away initially, they will come back and often angrier than before. I always find honesty is the best policy by explaining you are trying to do things better and if they have any advice from a customers point of view, you would love to hear it. Do your best to make to customer feel listened to but remember to stay loyal to your business as well and whilst we want to please everyone unfortunately you have to accept that if you have tried and the customer is still not happy, you cannot bend completely. Offer the customer the chance to let you now how they feel, give you feedback and then try and meet the customer half way by giving them a discount on their next purchase or a voucher or if relevant, give them a small voucher off their next purchase. If you show willing, that customer is likely to come back and you will be seen to be trying to make things better. Always remember though that you can't please everyone and there is a line when it comes to offering freebies and things, do the best you can and if the customer is still not happy, explain that you have tried to resolve the situation and are sorry they are not happy and leave at that. Always respond rather than ignore and once you have done this, you can rest assured you have tried.
First of all, Don't get anger with him/her. By watching, he/she shouting on you and delivering all his frustration over you. Before going to handle this situation be prepare for these...
1. Go with fresh mood
2. Listen carefully
3. Try to reach the beneath of problem
4. Speak with little smile
5. Take care the way of speaking (Tone)
6. Apologise whatever you have mistaken or not
7. Give him Assurance/believe (This is not going to happen again)
8. Offer them some surprise gift.
9. Greet him
10. Love your customer
Always keep in mind before going to handle any anger people, He/she is anger. You are not! So be lovable by loving others.