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How to Deal With Angry Difficult Customers Effectively

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Read Time: 11 min

If you work with customers, you’ve dealt with difficult ones. Are you wondering how to handle angry customers? Use these tips  to deal with  customers professionally.

Dealing with angry customers can be difficult. Dealing with angry customers can be difficult. Dealing with angry customers can be difficult.
Dealing with angry customers can be difficult. (Image source: Envato Elements)

When dealing with difficult customers, it’s essential to have excellent customer service skills. It’s never easy to handle difficult and sometimes angry customers. But if you know what to say and how to say it, you may have a good relationship with that customer. 

Keep reading to learn more about how to deal with difficult customers.

Why Is It Important to Deal with Difficult Customers?

It’s important to learn how to deal with difficult customers because when you offer good customer service, you'll earn more customer loyalty. If you can turn the customer's experience around, many angry customers will become an advocate for your brand. If you're able to satisfy them, they'll walk away impressed with your brand. In comparison, a typical customer may not have had as many interactions with you.

Let's look at the data:

  • According to the 2020 Customer Rage Study, angry customers are quite common. Nearly 66%  of those surveyed became angry when they experienced a problem. This shows that there are many people who don’t receive satisfactory customer service.
  • Further, according to Harvard Business Review, 84% of customers say that their expectations weren't met in their last interaction with customer service.

As you can see, unhappy customers are common.

4 Types of Difficult Customers You May Encounter

You've just learned why it's important to know how to handle difficult customers. Ignoring the problem won't make it go away.

There are several different types of difficult customers that you’ll come across. Here are four examples of difficult customers:

1. Angry

Dealing with an angry customer can be a challenge. When dealing with an angry customer, first apologize even if you think you don’t need to. This can calm them down and make them feel like you’re on their side. Then, after they’ve calmed down, you can have a conversation to help them solve their problem.

One customer type that you'll need to deal with is an angry customer.One customer type that you'll need to deal with is an angry customer.One customer type that you'll need to deal with is an angry customer.
One customer type that you'll need to deal with is an angry customer. (Image source: Envato Elements)

If the angry customer raises their voice, keep your voice at a normal talking level as you answer them. If you raise your voice to match theirs, you could escalate the situation. When dealing with an angry customer, it's essential to remain calm and not respond to them with anger.

Examples of what to say to an angry customer:

“I really want to help. Please bear with me while I work this out for you."

Or you could try:

“I’m sorry you didn’t get the right product. I understand that this is inconvenient and frustrating for you. Please know that we'll send a replacement as soon as possible.”

2. Indecisive

When learning how to handle difficult customers, you need to learn how to deal with indecisive customers. Indecisive customers take a long time deciding what they want or asking many questions. If you want to help, start by finding their concerns about the product.

Reassure them by talking confidently about the product or service. Share as much useful information as you can. It’s important to practice patience when dealing with an indecisive customer.

Examples of how to handle an indecisive customer:

  • Ask specific questions to find out what their concerns are.
  • Find and offer suggestions and explain how, where, and why they can use the product or service. Help them imagine benefitting from the product or service.

3. Demanding

Another customer type when you learn how to handle difficult customers is a demanding customer. A demanding customer could ask you to do something you can’t do for them. With this, customers try to come up with a solution to their problem. If you can compromise to meet their needs, do it.

Examples of what to say to a demanding customer:

“I’m sorry, but I can't give you this item for free, but I can give you a 10% discount. Would that work?”

Or you could say:

“Unfortunately, I can't fulfill this request. Let me bring my manager over who will be able to help more.”

4. Critical

Another type of customer is a critical customer. A critical customer might find fault in your products or services. So, it’s important when learning how to deal with difficult customers that you learn how to deal with a critical one. A critical customer will usually quickly point out what they're unhappy with.

Another customer type that you'll need to deal with is a critical customer.Another customer type that you'll need to deal with is a critical customer.Another customer type that you'll need to deal with is a critical customer.
Another customer type that you'll need to deal with is a critical customer. (Image source: Envato Elements)

To deal with this type of customer, listen to them patiently and try to understand their point of view. Sometimes critical customers can offer great feedback with their honesty.

Here are some examples of what to say to a critical customer:

“That is a great suggestion; thank you! I'll submit that to our sales department so they can consider it.”

Or try this:

“I understand this product line isn’t for everyone. But I appreciate your honesty.”

10 Tips on How to Deal With Difficult Customers

Once you've encountered an angry customer, what should you do? Here are ten practical tips on how to deal with difficult customers:

1. Keep Communication Professional

When dealing with angry customers, it’s important to stay professional. Not only should you remain professional but also friendly and respectful. If you're yelling at a customer, it'll make the situation worse. It's also important to remember that your behavior reflects on your employer or business. So, it’s essential to be mindful of your actions.

Keep your communication professional.Keep your communication professional.Keep your communication professional.
Keep your communication professional. (Image source: Envato Elements)

To have professional communication maintain an even tone. Also, keep in mind that your body language can show that you’re open to feedback. When responding to the customer, look them in the eye and use their name. When dealing with an angry customer, you may not understand every action your customer makes. Remain professional and calm and act in a service-oriented manner.

2. Stay Calm

It can be easy to let your emotions take over when dealing with an angry customer. But it’s essential to stay calm and relaxed. You want every customer interaction to go as smoothly as it can. When you’re calm, it can stop the situation from escalating into a more difficult one. When dealing with customers, take a breath and try not to take their anger personally.

If you can remain calm and deal with the situation in a service-oriented way, you've got a higher chance at a successful interaction. It’s essential to learn how to manage your tone of voice and emotions.

3. Speak Softly

Speak softlySpeak softlySpeak softly
Speak Softly (Image source: Envato Elements)

If a customer is raising their voice, you may not know how to handle difficult customers like this. Try speaking in a softer than normal tone. When you approach them, do so calmly and speak quietly and slowly. When you’re calm, it can keep the situation under control. Speaking softly is often a strategy that's used for de-escalating tense conversations.

4. Actively Listen

Active Empathetic Listening, according to Psychology Today, is

“The three stages of AEL involve sensing, processing, and responding in empathic ways. In the sensing stage, you indicate that you are taking in all of the outward and inward features of another person's communication. Empathically sensing means that you understand not only what is said but how it is said. In the processing stage, you put the conversation pieces together to construct a "narrative whole" that provides you with the essence of what's being communicated. Finally, in the responding stage, you ask questions to make sure you understand what the person is saying”

Actively listening helps you to understand the words that the customer is saying. By understanding the words, you can find the customers’ needs and do your best to improve the situation. Besides, giving the customer undivided attention will make the customer feel like you’re being respectful. A way to practice active listening is to use verbal affirmations. When you use verbal affirmations, you assure the customer that you’re listening. Here are some verbal affirmations:

  • I understand.
  • Yes, I agree.
  • I know what you mean.
  • I hear you.
  • That makes sense.

5. Let Them Talk

When learning how to deal with angry customers, give the customer time to talk. Show the customer that you’re listening to them. Show that you’re listening by nodding your head and having open body language. Give the customer enough time to say what they want before responding to them.

Let them talkLet them talkLet them talk
Let them talk. (Image source: Envato Elements)

By giving the customer time to say what they want, you can learn more about the situation. Not only can you find out more, but it provides the customer with time to work out their thoughts and feelings. It’s tempting to talk back to a customer or talk over them. So, if the situation allows, remain silent and let the customer talk.

6. Understand their Point of View

Understanding your customer's point of view is essential in knowing how to handle difficult customers. To understand a customer’s point of view, you need to know the customers feelings or intentions. When you try to understand a person’s feelings and intentions, this is known as empathy. Empathy lets you understand the emotional state of the situation and solve any problems.

If you're having trouble understanding a customer’s point of view, try asking them questions. Clarifying what the customer wants and needs can help you solve any issues. Asking questions also lets the customer know that you care to make the situation right, and they can relax a little bit. Here are some ways you can practice empathy.

  • nod
  • ask the customer what they think the solutions should be
  • be respectful
  • take responsibility and use phrases such as “you’re right, we did that wrong.

7. Assess Their Needs

When learning how to deal with difficult customers, it’s essential to learn how to assess a customer’s needs even when they’re being angry or difficult. When you take the time to understand the customers’ needs, you’ll help them and resolve any issues quickly. After assessing the customers’ needs, tell the customer that you'll do whatever you can to resolve their issue.

Asses their needs.Asses their needs.Asses their needs.
Assess their needs. (Image source: Envato Elements)

It can be helpful to repeat the customer's concerns back to them to make sure you’re addressing the right issue. If necessary, ask questions to make sure you’ve identified the problem. Repeating the issue shows the customer that you’re listening.

8. Find a Solution

Finding a solution is an essential step in how to deal with angry customers. Once you’ve figured out what the customer needs, present your solution. If you know what would make your customer happy, tell them what you’ll do to fix the issue. But if the customer resists the solution or isn’t sure what the customer wants, you can ask them.

Sometimes all you need to do is ask,

“What do I need to do to make this better for you?”

Asking this simple question can help you find the solution quickly. Besides, asking this question is a good option if you’re unsure how to help the customer.

9. Ask for Help

In some cases, when dealing with an angry customer, you can ask a coworker or someone in a higher position for help. If you need support to help the customer, then let the customer know that you’re getting someone else to help with the situation. Bringing someone else into the situation can help you find a better perspective or has more authority to solve the issue.

Ask for helpAsk for helpAsk for help
Ask for help (Image source: Envato Elements)

An example is that if a customer is demanding, it can help bring a manager in. A manager would have more authority and can help the customer more.

10. Maintain a Positive Relationship

An essential step in how to deal with difficult customers is to maintain a positive relationship and use the feedback you’re given. When you’re done helping a customer, ask them if they've got any other concerns. Asking them if they've any other concerns lets the customer know that you respect and appreciate them. So, you can reduce the possibility of the situation happening again.

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Learn More About How to Deal With Angry Customers

Would you like to learn more about how to deal with difficult customers? We've got some more helpful tutorials for you to review:

Deal With Angry Customers Professionally

Most people come across difficult or angry customers in their job. Next time you find yourself in a situation with a demanding customer, try following the tips in this article.

And remember, to save time on making presentations or work in a creative field, sign up for Envato Elements.

Editorial Note: This content was originally published in January 2022. We're sharing it again because our editors have determined that this information is still accurate and relevant.

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