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4 Proven Ways to Diffuse an Angry Customer

It happens to the best of us. An upset customer calls to complain about a product or service, and you’re caught completely off guard. How do you react? Do you fly off the handle right along with him? Or do you respond in a calm, thoughtful way that salvages or even strengthens your relationship? According to Maribeth Kuzmeski, author of The Connectors: How the World’s Most Successful Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for Life, you can use this opportunity to truly connect with your customer and build customer loyalty.

"Conflict is a normal part of business, and we all need to learn how to deal with it in the right way," Kuzmeski says. "If a customer thinks enough of you to give you the chance to repair a bad situation, take it. Play an active role in making your customer happy so that you can be sure to keep him or her on board with you." She offers these tips to keep your customer retention program strong and build long-lasting customer relationships:

    1. Extend a peace offering. It’s easy to reach out to customers when things are going well, but don’t succumb to the temptation to avoid them when hard feelings are present. Proactively reaching out to your customers can squash any negativity they may feel for you. Even the simplest gesture can be effective: Offer an apology when you’ve made a mistake. Then, make things right by extending a peace offering. It doesn’t need to be anything extravagant. It can be as simple as a handwritten note, a refund, or a coupon.
    2. Don’t follow your “strike back” instinct. If an angry customer calls you fuming mad, your knee-jerk reaction might be to argue. Remember, though, fighting anger with anger seldom works. No matter how tough it is, do the opposite of what you feel like doing. Take a deep breath and remain calm. And most of all, diffuse your customer’s anger by immediately assuring him that you will make it right.
    3. Get them to listen to you by listening to them. Customers will listen to what you have to say if you respectfully listen to what they have to say first. Knowing that you are truly listening to their concerns can cause your customers to agree to your suggestions much more quickly.
    4. Have a standard service protocol at the ready. As part of any client retention strategy, create standards, procedures, and methods for dealing with customers and servicing their needs. It can really help when it comes to resolving conflicts or handling a dissatisfied customer. By creating a service protocol in advance, you provide a way to “enforce” how client conflict situations are handled. This allows you and your employees to more easily resolve issues and deal with those impossibly and consistently difficult clients. Author: Ken Beaulieu

Read other articles in this issue:

4 Proven Ways to Diffuse an Angry Customer
9 Surefire Ways to Show the Benefits of Marketing
Rock-Solid Marketing for Trendy Times

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June 4, 2020

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