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Relationship Management: How to Handle Disgruntled Customers

Relationship Management: How to Handle Disgruntled Customers

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There are many circumstances which can lead to a customer becoming very disgruntled. As Forbes points out, some of these reasons are justified while others may not be. Those who are truly in the business of serving their customers may find it difficult to handle an angry customer. It is important to do so with tact, however, since your response can make the difference in whether or not your customer is satisfied with your service, or ends up giving you a bad review. Here are a few tips on how to handle the disgruntled customer.

1. Remain calm and adjust your thinking. As Mind Tools shares, your first priority upon learning that your customer is unhappy is to put yourself in their shoes. Set aside your anger and calm yourself. Take a deep breath and do not participate in the “blame game.” This is not personal, this is simply a customer who is dissatisfied with your product or service and it is your job to correct that.

2. Understand the customer's complaint. This step is impossible without step number one. Until you can stay calm and put yourself in the customer's shoes, you can never understand what it is that they need from you. Take the time to listen and understand what the complaint is before you decide how to proceed. After all, one of the easiest ways to diffuse someone's anger is to make them feel that someone is hearing their side.

3. Repeat their issues back to them. After you have heard their side and understand their complaint, show them that their feelings are important by repeating their issue back to them in a sympathetic way. For example, you might say, “I understand that you are angry that the product did not arrive when you expected it...” This lets them know that you were indeed listening to them and are going to try to fix their issue.

4. Apologize...sincerely. An apology can go a long way in diffusing a bad situation. Let the customer know that you are genuinely sorry that they were not satisfied with your product or service.

5. Find out what you can do to appease them. It is important that you are already aware of any company policy on such situations before reaching this step. You will want to be able to offer any viable solution to the customer's complaint, however, offering them something which is against company policy will only make matters worse if you cannot follow through on your offer. You might want to add to the previous statement, “I understand that you are angry that the product did not arrive when you expected it...what can I do to make this right?”

6. Offer solutions. If the customer has no solution, or has an unacceptable one, offer up another one instead. You might say, “ I am sorry that company policy won't allow me to do that, but what if we offer you this instead?” For example, your company may not allow you to refund the customer's money, but might allow them to trade a defective product, or get free services in the future.

7. Make sure the situation is resolved. Before you end the conversation with the customer, make sure that the situation is resolved. Assure them that you will do everything you can to see to it that this doesn't happen again. Make sure the customer is satisfied as much as is possible before moving on.

8. Breathe. After an altercation with a disgruntled customer, take a few minutes for yourself. Breathe, relax, and recharge before going on with your day.

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