While you would like to think that all your customers will enjoy their experiences with your products and services, the truth is that is not reality.

All companies are faced at times with customers who lo and behold will make things difficult for a customer service rep, a manager or even the big boss. The question then becomes, how do you deal with this individual?

Be all Ears, Not all Mouth

The first line of defense is typically the customer service person, be it a phone rep or the administrative assistant/secretary.

Their job quickly becomes that of a fireman, putting the brush fire out before it engulfs an entire department. In doing such a job, there are several key factors that come into play, including:

  • Be all ears, not all mouth – The worst thing a customer service rep or other individual handling the angry customer can do is be confrontational right off the bat. Take a few moments to listen to the complaint and see how best to handle it;
  • Be composed – It is easy to get caught up in the emotion of things when someone is doing all the talking, interrupting you when you try and talk or even yelling at you. While it is hard, keep your composure. If the issue turns personal, then get assistance from a supervisor;
  • Remove the word ‘no’ from your vocabulary – One thing that will escalate the confrontation is if you say no once or several times. Remember, the customer is looking for a solution, not lip service. If you tell them you can’t assist them, you don’t have an answer or you have no idea what is going on, you’re likely to draw more of their rage;
  • Provide a follow up message – In the event you do not have an answer for the upset customer, inform them of how you will be able to help them and how soon they can expect that assistance. You may very well have a legitimate reason for not knowing the answer to their question or questions, but don’t leave them hanging, tell them an approximate time and manner of how you will get them that answer.


Reality Isn’t Always the Case

While it sounds good to be calm, cool and collective when dealing with an irate customer, we all know that is oftentimes not the reality of the situation.

Remember, you are a representative of your company, so keep that in mind in the event you feel a bit of a temper explosion coming on. Not only would you be portraying a bad image of yourself, but your company’s reputation for having fiery employees is not something you or your boss wants.

The reality of the situation is that nine times out of 10 the customer is not personally upset with you, just the company you represent. That being said, do not take the complaint personally, but rather due to the fact you represent a certain company, product and service.

Lastly, remember the old adage that “the customer is always right” that was drilled into your head from day one?

While many bosses still swear by that motto, the reality of the situation is that customers are NOT always right. They too sometimes make a mistake on a receipt, a communication they had with one of your co-workers and so on.

Treat each situation individually and make your best judgment as to why this particular customer is so upset with your company.

When you do that, you lessen the chances of a small brush fire getting out of control.

AvatarDave Thomas

With 23 years’ writing experience, Dave Thomas covers business topics for a variety of websites.