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How To Deal With Unhappy Customers

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Jan. 10 2020, Published 3:15 a.m. ET

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If you work in the service industry, you probably know how tough handling customer complaints can be.

Holding your own in a conversation with any upset person requires a certain set of social skills. For many, this kind of situation can be made even harder by the dynamic that exists between an employee and a customer.

Here are some tips to help you handle customer complaints.

Hopefully, these tips help you resolve the issue in a way that leaves both you and the customer happy.

The #1 Rule

There’s one rule to remember when dealing with unhappy customers: you want to be on the customer’s side.

After all, with any service-based business, the customer is the boss. Without their patronage, every one of your employees is out of a job, and your business wouldn’t exist.

Always remember that the customer’s approval is ultimately what you want.

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It Isn’t Personal

it's not personal

Typically, customer complaints aren’t directed at any one person. Customer complaints have more to do with a grievance about the service, rather than against you specifically as a person.

Whether it’s regarding a product that didn’t perform or a policy issue, customer complaints are not supposed to be taken personally.

Your business thrives on the satisfaction of your customers, so you’re not in the wrong if you side with them. Remember the siding with the customer isn’t the same as siding against yourself. After all, you’re on the customer’s side!

Always avoid making the customer feel as though they’re being opposed. Never make a customer feel as though they’re a bother.

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When a customer has a complaint, all they want is a company representative that’s supportive and happy to help. They simply want to feel heard, which brings us to our next tip!

Let Them Know You’re Listening

Actively listen, speak calmly, and make supportive comments if you can. A simple “I understand”, “I wouldn’t be happy either” or “That does sound frustrating” should favor well.

You can even try repeating what they say back to them. Just make sure you change up the phrasing a little in order to avoid appearing as sarcastic or if you are reading off a script. This is just a subtle, conversational way for you to let your customers know that you are listening to them.

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Thank Them!

thank customers


If a customer is complaining, chances are, they’re complaining about a product or service that they paid for. They bought something from you, so they’re supporting your place of work!

When you get a customer complaint, nothing eases the tension like a simple “thank you for your support.” Again, when you thank the customer you let them know that you’re on their side, you value them, and that you truly want to help. After all, they are the reason your business can operate on a daily basis.

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Don’t Contradict

Prevent yourself from coming across as contradictory by avoiding words like “actually.” Quite often, avoiding contradictory statements is as simple as changing one word. Even if the customer is misunderstanding something, when they’re upset, the last thing that they want is to be corrected. This is the case with customers, and it’s the case with people in general.

You can provide the customer with the correct information. It’s just important that you do it correctly and remember your phone etiquette.

Instead of saying “Actually, this is the case” or “No, that isn’t how that works,” try saying “Yes, I understand” and follow up with the information that they need.

Not contradicting the customer is really as simple as having the right attitude. Almost everything that you can say in a contradictory way, you can also say in a positive, affirming, and helpful way.

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Resolve The Customer’s Issue

If you can resolve your customer’s issue, that’s great! The ordeal is over, and the case has been closed.

If you have employees, let them know the circumstances when you should be contacted to resolve a customer’s problem. Create an easy to follow chain-of-command so you aren’t jumping on the phone every time a customer is slightly unhappy, unless you truly love the customer-facing aspect of your business.

Handling Customer Complaints Like A Pro

Hopefully, these tips have provided some insight that will help you with your next customer complaint.

After all, a representative that wants to help is exactly what a customer is looking for.

This article was written by Dee Hawkins and originally appeared on SCORE

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