Video Transcript

Hi. It’s David Patmore here from CAL Corporate Solutions. And I just wanted to bring you some quick thoughts around dealing with angry customers, and in particular, we’re going to finish off with five fast and focused tips.

After doing some recent research on the subject, some things have come to light, and what we see now is the majority of customers have actually got a higher expectation of good service than they did pre-pandemic and with a greater demand for fast and accessible interactions with companies. 71% of consumers believe that businesses that show empathy will earn loyalty, showing that service is not just about us solving problems, but it’s about perceived experience and relationship. It’s widely accepted, as we know, that customer service can make or break a brand, but at the same time, what we’re seeing now is that how company behaves while dealing with complaints and angry customers has now got the biggest impact on how that brand is perceived.

Despite millions of dollars being spent on customer service, it’s probably safe to say that a good deal of interactions with customer support still leaves people feeling angry and frustrated and dissatisfied. And particularly now, with the explosive nature and impact of social media, it makes it so easy for customers to share their experiences and potentially negative reviews going viral. A recent example of this was a customer who spent actually a thousand dollars on Twitter advertising to express anger over lost luggage that he had with British Airways, who still hadn’t responded to his original complaint after two days, and it generated thousands of impressions on Twitter alone and even went on to mainstream media, and then finally went viral on other social media sites. And even then, it took the airline another 24 hours to respond. Pretty terrible.

Well, why do customers get angry? Well, as I often say, it’s not always the issue that drives the anger, but the perception of the issue, and most of us would agree that managing customer anger is mainly about the managing of the perception of the issue, which helps diffuse the emotions and often the animated behavior of the customer, particularly if you’re face to face. And easier said than done, right? But at the core of perception is always the belief of how we are being treated and respected through the process.

And with many companies having rigid policies that inadvertently create disrespect, such as respect for customers’ time as they battle to find out contact information, being put on hold, etc, or being maneuvered through multiple customer support departments to get to someone who can actually help you and get you a solution finally, and only to find that even then, sometimes, you get put on hold, and it’s all very frustrating. So this just gives us a loss of power and often dignity, particularly when the market message is that we treat customers with our highest priority, but there’s countless examples of poorly managed and avoidable incidents where companies come across as impolite, sarcastic, rude, and even dismissive.

Companies love sending out the message that they have wonderful respect for a customer, that our customers are our main business. And on the sales end, they try and coax people in by displaying that value and their customer-centric culture, which really does create high customer expectations. The problem often arises though on the back end, when supporters need it, and either they are put on hold for elongated periods of time, or as it’s popular these days, it’s very hard to speak to somebody because you have to go through a range of different interpersonal methods, like automated chats or emails, for example, finding it very frustrating to speak to someone. And you can really feel left with feeling disempowered and really not being heard by someone who represents that organisation.

So respect is at the cornerstone of building trust, and this needs to be driven through the organisation at all levels. And we know that less than 4% of customers will actually let you know they’re angry and will not tell you about their annoyance, and 91% will never return. And so all organisations need to understand angry customers are the source and insight also of their learning opportunity. So here’s five fast and focused tips to deal with angry customers.

Number one, empathy before direction. Establish their value, their importance, and listen to their needs before you give them directions. Even though our priority is to fix and solve, their priority is to feel that you care and respect them first.

Number two, ask before telling. One way to do this is to respond by asking questions versus trying to explain and defend against their attacks and accusations.

Number three, positive acknowledgement. Always respond using positive acknowledgement phrases. For example, “I appreciate it’s important and frustrating. I appreciate it can be very confusing when you get conflicting messages on how to solve this,” and even well-placed apologies are useful too. They just want to feel validated.

Number four, establish a calm state before attempting to solve. So only when the customer displays signs that they’re starting to calm down and come off the ledges it were should you start working on the resolution.

And lastly, number five, ask for feedback. Get an update on their status, how are they tracking, express gratitude and appreciation to them. And you never know what you’ll learn. You’ll never know what they will feed back to you.

Anyway, thought those tips might be useful for you. Hope they’ve been helpful. Thanks for watching, and bye for now.