Perfection. Every company strives for it, but none ever achieve it. We all desire to please our customers, but the truth is that dealing with angry customers is just a part of doing business. Sometimes, we make mistakes that draw the ire of customers. Other times, a customer is being unreasonable and is simply impossible to please, so there’s nothing you can do to make them happy.
Now, thanks to Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other social media outlets, angry customers have a bigger platform than ever before to vent and tear your company apart. Remember the old rule, a happy customer tells only a few people, but an angry customer tells dozens (now potentially millions, thanks to social media).
With that in mind, it’s absolutely essential that you understand how to respond when an angry customer attacks. Here are some general guidelines to help you out.
Figure out exactly why the customer is angry.
You need to identify what has the customer so riled up before you can address the situation. There’s a good chance they will be pretty detailed in their complaint, so you can use that information to do a little research on your side and figure out exactly what happened and where things went wrong. If the angry customer doesn’t provide any details and just says something along the lines of “(insert company name here) sucks!” then you’ll need to engage the customer to find out exactly what has them so upset.
Respond to them quickly.
Responding to customer complaints in a timely manner can help diffuse the situation and show other customers that you really do value your customers. But just be careful that you don’t respond so fast that your emotions get the better of you and you end up in a fight with the customer. Calm down for a second and think about what you’re typing.
Don’t be too proud to apologize.
Does anyone enjoy apologizing? It’s difficult to swallow your pride and say “I’m sorry,” but it can be the key to diffusing a nasty situation and even winning back an angry customer. Show your human side when you apologize. You don’t have to go into detail about the situation, but just apologize to the customer for their bad experience and let them know that you’ll do whatever it takes to keep it from happening again.
Take the conversation elsewhere if necessary.
Sometimes, you won’t be able to resolve the issue by commenting back and forth on Facebook or sending 140-character Tweets to the angry customer. You may need to take the conversation elsewhere, like to email, over the phone, or even in person. The whole world might not need to see the nastiness that ensues.
If the problem gets resolved, ask the customer if they would consider amending or deleting the original post.
If all goes well, you can win back the angry customer and make them happy once again. If so, ask the customer if they would consider either deleting their original angry post or at least amending it to let everyone know that the situation has been resolved.
Have you ever dealt with an angry customer on one of your social networking pages? Tell us about your experience by leaving a comment.