There are endless reasons why a customer could be angry. And if you’ve spent any amount of time in business, you have no doubt had your share of customers that are not happy for one reason or another. Some customers get upset over minor issues or inconveniences while others don’t get angry until they’ve reached their boiling point. We’re sure you have experienced both.
Let’s point out something obvious right up front. We know a few things about upset consumers. We’re a collection agency. In a lot of situations, the people were are in contact with might not be thrilled about talking with us. However, in many cases they are, because we offer much needed help in resolving their financial situation. After a rough start sometimes, we end up amicably coming to an agreement about how both can resolve the matter together. As long as certain pieces come into play.
You might not think of looking to a collection agency to get a few tips on how to work with angry customers but guess what? We’re pretty good at customer service on a number of levels. First as we just mentioned, we’re dealing with consumers every day that don’t always have an interest in working with us. But we also work daily with businesses that are frustrated because they can’t get some of their customers to pay on time. Or, pay at all.
Here is what our team does to help calm the situation when either dealing with consumers in collections or our own upset clients.
People want to be heard when they have an issue. They do not want to be shut down. So the first thing anyone needs to do when they encounter an upset customer is to listen. Even in the world of debt collections, we still listen. One, because we feel that it gives the consumer an opportunity to express their issue and point of view on a matter. But secondly, it gives you an opportunity to assess the situation. There is no way you can help create a resolution to a problem if you don’t listen. Make it part of the way you do business to listen to all your customers. Go ahead and let them tell you about their issue and if you have questions, go ahead and ask.
But do your best not to interrupt the consumer when they are frustrated. That will only fuel the fire. Allow them ample time to communicate their problem to you.
I can help you:
Implement a culture of helping in your company. In fact, be known for helping. Try very hard to stay in the positive. What we mean by that is instead of saying, “Let me see if I can help you” try to say, “I can help.” As long as the customer can provide you with what you need to resolve their dispute, saying you can help in the affirmative is the best way to show them you are serious about solving their issue. While listening is a big part of diffusing an angry customer, assuring them that you have the tools and authority to help is a big part in calming someone down.
Authority equal to responsibility:
Speaking of authority, give your team the authority to solve problems. When you put someone on hold for 20 minutes to check with your supervisor, the customer only gets more upset. That tells them that you are not ready to assist them in solving their issue. It also tells them that you might be unsure of their dispute. We understand that in some cases, this may be unavoidable such as when large sums of money are involved. But in most cases, your team should have the authority to solve your customer’s problems. Train them well, set parameters, and they’ll do the right thing.
This is where you can take a page from how many debt collectors work with consumers. At least at American Profit Recovery. It is probably no surprise that we get a fair share of angry people on the phone. It’s just part of the debt collection business. In many cases, the overdue bill was just an oversight and it gets paid. But many times, we are in contact with individuals that are in a tough situation financially. And when we do finally make contact, many are in no mood to speak with us. And we end up getting the brunt of their anger.
Our team has to stay calm in all situations. If we let someone’s anger get to us, we will never come to a resolution. As tough as it may get, your ability to remain calm will dictate the outcome of your situation. We understand that for many, the way they complain is to just unload everything with anger. Many feel this is the way to get what they want. Try hard not to participate in the anger and keep your cool.
Stick up for yourself:
We just discussed staying calm. And that is absolutely imperative to resolving your customer’s issue. But there will come times when consumers get abusive. They use derogatory language and treat you and your team poorly. Our best advice when this happens is to give the consumer one warning. Let them know that swearing and demeaning treatment will not be part of this resolution or discussion. While you work hard for your customers, you have to set boundaries. Telling your team that they have to put up with such treatment is not a smart business decision and its one that will have you looking for new employees often. We dare say, some customers are not worth it.
Use good judgement:
In the end, good judgment always wins. Using good judgment can come in many forms but knowing you tried to do the right thing for the client and your business should give you comfort. Letting the customer know that you are going to do everything you can for them to help them resolve their issue is the standard you should follow. Also, being flexible with customers goes a long way in retaining them for years to come. Don’t lose long-term customers for a short term gain. Work with them to create a resolution. Be nice, be warm and be willing to work together.