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Marketing Your Illinois Business

Dealing with Unruly Customers

September 13, 2023

Dealing with disgruntled customers is a normal part of running a business. Their frustrations can come in many forms, such as being critical, angry, demanding and so on. It is important to handle unruly customers effectively so that you can still retain them in the future. If you can redirect a customer’s frustration into a positive situation, they might become one of your strongest advocates. They could even include how you handled the situation in a review! This will no doubt highlight your good qualities as a business. Below, we will offer some tips on how to address unhappy customers:

  1. Address the situation professionally.

In a situation that could turn tense, it’s important to maintain composure and address the customer with care. Keeping a friendly and respectful interaction will cool the temperatures. Be mindful of your actions and don’t take their comments personally. Instead, showcasing a positive demeanor and an even-tempered tone will be a great way to connect with the customer. Noticing how you are feeling in the situation is important too. Be aware of how you might sound responding to them. Being cordial, confident, and receptive to criticism will help calm the situation.

  1. Listen first, speak after.

Active listening is a great skill to have when addressing conflict. You want to understand what went wrong and why. Figuring out where the problem occurred can give you a better understanding of how to help the customer and prevent the issue from cropping up in the future. Give them undivided attention and make sure you’re looking them in the eye. Even nodding after they speak can show you’re engaged. If you were frustrated, being heard would likely diffuse some frustration. Reiterating points like, “I understand”, “I hear what you’re saying”, or “that makes sense” will show you are listening. After they’ve made their case, then you can worry about coming up with solutions. Give them your full attention!

  1. Get support if needed.

Sometimes addressing a situation with another employee can be helpful. Perhaps another perspective can be helpful in solving a larger problem. For example, someone with higher authority can be brought in to assist. A manager can show an unhappy customer that the location is actively pursuing a solution. This can be reassuring and could mean the difference between a customer visiting again or not.

  1. Find a solution.

This is where active listening can help. If you’ve been paying attention, solutions might already come to mind. Figuring out what went wrong and why the customer is upset will be the main points to address. Asking, “what can we do to make this better?” or “how can we fix this for you?” are direct approaches to resolving the issue. Sometimes it’s really that simple. After all, you want this customer to return to your location. This could mean an outright solution or a compromise, which will be easier to figure out after listening to them. Once the issue is resolved, asking the customer “Is there anything else I can help you with?” is a nice way to conclude the conversation. They want to feel respected, so make sure you relay that their business is appreciated. A satisfied customer is always the goal, so make sure everything that can be done is done.

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