How to Handle a Furious Customer

November 2004
by Mel Silberman and Freda Hansburg

« Back to Independent Articles

Problem #1:“I hate it when customers unload on me. Whether they have a reason or not, people shouldn’t just yell, complain, and carry on. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to get a word in edgewise, and I can feel myself getting ready to blow up.”

Solution: Remember that there’s a kernel of truth behind even the most outlandish complaint. When a customer unloads, our instincts are often to strike back (“Fine, Mr. Norton, then remove your own gall bladder!”). Alas, this is not the people-smart approach. Instead, try these three key steps to calming an angry customer:

Keep calm. Although it’s easier said than done, the first rule in dealing with irate customers is not to take their anger personally. Do not become defensive. It will only make the customer angrier. You are the company in the customer’s eyes, so try to personify the company and give it a compassionate, human voice. It may also help to recognize the customer as someone who is under a lot of stress at the moment. No one functions best under those circumstances. If you recognize the customer is anxious and distressed, it will become a little easier for you not to take the anger personally.

Identify the problem. Listen. Offer empathy and acknowledgement by succinctly paraphrasing or summarizing what the customer says and by identifying how the customer must be feeling. Ask questions to elicit further information and to clarify…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

Join Today!

« Back to Independent Articles

How to Get Involved!
Marketing Opportunities

From mailings to exhibits, see how IBPA's marketing programs help you grow your sales.

Educational Opportunities

Attend a seminar, ask an expert, and get more free advice with our educational programs.

Become a member

Access exclusive members-only benefits starting at just $10.