Dealing with agitated customers
A customer service environment is no less than a mixed bag as you are most likely to interact with both happy and agitated customers. While interacting with happy customers is a breeze, dealing with agitated customers can be really frustrating. Given that a customer is still a customer irrespective of their abrasive behavior, all you can do is appease them if they get angry at something. Now, pacifying a customer can include many activities ranging from showering gifts and discount coupons or coming up with an apology letter. In fact, according to a customer service statistics, 37% of customers are satisfied with service recovery when they are offered something of monetary value (e.g., a refund or credit). But when the business adds an apology on top of the compensation, satisfaction doubles to 74%. Customer service is designed to shield and assist buyers. Nevertheless, there may be instances when a product or service fails to deliver as promised or a customer is denied a request or perhaps, there is delay in subscription or delivery of services which has got customers angry and complaining. How do you deal with these crises?
For starters, an apology is a great way of empathizing with your customers. A great customer support agent will begin with lending an ear with an apology on the way along with well devised solution to resolve the issue.
A poor customer support agent will avoid responsibility and state that the company is not responsible for the complaints, let alone offer a solution! The first step of effective customer support is acknowledging where, how, what and why problems arose and what can be done to curb it?
Many a time, customer support agents up apologizing for a mistake they haven’t committed, but it’s worth the efforts to retain the customer. Even when an apology doesn’t suffice, explaining what went wrong along and coming up with a solution can help in clearing the air. The customer support should empathize with the customer and direct them by opening dialogue with appropriate department or vendor/professional for suitable services. For instance, a watch company that doesn’t cover accidents beyond its warranty period can inform the customers where they can get their watch fixed.
When you take responsibility, it builds repute with customers and shows your care for their concerns.
Building the connection: How to apologize to an angry customer?
Taking responsibility shows that you truly care about your customers, but an effective way of winning their trust is giving them your name and listening to them patiently. You can start the conversation by saying something like this “I am Ronan and I am going to assist you with any concerns that you have.”
It makes the team accountable and available through in-person support.
When the customer is angry, hear them out and don’t interrupt but agree with them every few seconds. Don’t forget to say “I’m sorry” the minute your customer finishes and mention that you apologize on the behalf of the organization.
Respond immediately and don’t forward the complaint to other departments, unless imperative. Forwarding the complaint to other departments or authorities may also be one of the reasons why your customers are annoyed so be actively involved in resolving the issue. Moreover, needlessly routing the concern to other teams will just add up to the resolution time. Be careful about using the right tone with them and most of all don’t shift blame.
Even highly successful organizations are not prone to customer support blunders. Sometimes, the issue may take longer to get resolved and in such a case, mere apology isn’t enough. The solution needs to be weighty so you can add in some benefits or rewards like free trial versions of software, extended warranty as discounted cost or free membership to premium club, etc.
Let your customer vent and make a record of the complaint and follow up with your customer to check that the issue has been taken care of.
How to apologize to a customer: What not to do?
A customer support team should avoid falling into some pitfalls like not listening properly or using defensive language, etc. Here is a list of avoidable behaviors, distasteful and useful phrases that ruin and make an apology. Take a look:
The Non-Apology: Don’t!
What does it mean? A False-apology also called Notpology or Fauxpology.
This is an insincere and grating kind of apology that you must refrain while addressing customers. When handling an agitated customer, keep a check on your tone, style and the overall message that is being conveyed to the customer. Make sure that you exactly mean what you say as miscommunications can worsen the problem, instead of mending it. An apology should involve regret or remorse, or even humility to a certain extent. The non-apology focuses on dismissal and condescension which is a big No. Some phrases and sentences that you should avoid saying to aggrieved customers:
- I am sorry if you are offended.
- I am sorry you feel that way.
- It is unfortunate that things turned out this way.
- Mistakes were made.
These phrases don’t sound responsible enough and somehow shift the blame to the customer. When responding to a customer, remove every hint of defensiveness and be an active listener.
Communication is a two-way process. Mere speaking isn’t communication; the listener needs to be there as well. Communication surpasses verbal boundaries and its principles are effectively applied to live chat for websites. Here are some blunders customer representative should avoid to make effective communication with customers:
- Not legitimize their feelings– its simple. Just say “that must have been frustrating for you” and avoid using defensive sounding language. Basically, agree with your customer and listen to them.
- Not use encouragers in your language-Mention “I see” or “I hear you” or “I understand“show that you are indeed engaged with the customer and keep replying even if it seems to be a long chat.
- Not confirm what your customer is saying– Make it known to the customer that you are on the same page as them. State the same after them and confirm the story for them by admitting the action like “Problem X happened because of Problem Y from our team/service/product.”
- Jump to fixing it before apologizing –Apologize first and then get to fixing the trouble.
Active listening is the key point of understanding what’s wrong and how can you fix it for the customer? Listen carefully to your agitated customer and find out the main reason why they are unhappy with the service.
Take a Step Ahead to Appease Your Customer
While “I’m Sorry” is undoubtedly among the most used phrases in customer service, one can try and be a little creative. Apologizing is not just about expressing regret but it is about offering a viable solution, resolving the complaint and guiding the customer better for future reference. Smallest sentences like “we are genuinely sorry for the experience you faced and would be happy to offer you a solution of your choice” make a gigantic difference.
Note: “apologize to a customer example” couldn’t be fit grammatically into any sentence so please make changes.
I hope you learn something from the post dealing with agitated customers. If you have any comment, please feel free to use the comment section below. Also, share this article if you feel it can help others.