Customers get rude or angry for a variety of reasons—some justified, some not. But since you’re in business to serve your customers, you’ll likely encounter rude or angry individuals at one time or another. How you respond can make the difference between a customer who feels satisfied with the resolution and one who vows never to patronize your business again.
Here are tips for coping with a tense situation and hopefully resolving it to everyone’s satisfaction:
1. Remain calm. When a customer starts yelling or being otherwise rude, there is nothing to be gained by responding in a similar manner. In fact, that will probably escalate hostilities. Maintain control of yourself, even if the customer’s tirade makes you feeling like yelling yourself.
2. Don’t take it personally. Remember, the customer is not angry with you, they are displeased with the performance of your product or the quality of the service you provide. Your personal feelings are beside the point.
3. Use your best listening skills. The first thing an angry customer wants is to vent. To do so, they need someone to listen—and, for better or worse, you are that person. Listening patiently can defuse a situation, as long as the customer feels acknowledged in his or her complaint. Hear them out. When they are done talking, summarize what you’ve heard and ask any questions to further clarify their complaint. Body language can be critically important here. Keep eye contact. Stand or sit up straight. Keep your arms uncrossed. Show how closely you’re paying attention to their problem.
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