Dealing with disgruntled and angry customers is an unavoidable part of working in retail. If there’s one thing to remember that can help you cope, it’s this. These people are human, just like you.
You’ve probably had your fair share of days when you weren’t at your best, and you might have been rude to some customers that day. Most of the angry customers you face are just like you. They are probably nice people who simply aren’t having a good day, and you have been picked (unfortunately) to be the target of their frustrations.
Take a deep breath and don’t panic. Here’s what you need to do to diffuse the situation and come out of it with your sanity and professional integrity intact.
Get Them In Private
Here we’re not talking about your average customer who is a bit ticked off or simply rude. We are talking about the ones who are going through full-blown fits of anger. The best thing that you can do for both you and them is to avoid making a scene. If they begin their tirade out on the sales floor, try to take them to an area where you can communicate in a more private way.
Having someone chew you out in front of other customers and coworkers is the last thing you want for two reasons. Firstly, it’s not a good situation for your store, and secondly, many of these types of angry customers tend to feed off having an audience.
If you take them away from the situation and create a more private setting, there is a good chance that they’ll calm down a bit so that you can get to the bottom of what’s irking them.
Let Them Get It All Out
The most important rule to successfully diffusing the situation is to let the customer say what he or she has to say first. Let them get all of their issues off their chest, and whatever you do, don’t interrupt them!
Even if you understand what the problem is halfway through the rant and you know what the solution is, resist the need to interject. Let them get everything out before you say anything.
Most of the time, people who come in with an angry demeanor have had this particular problem for some time. It’s something that they have had to think about a lot in order to get this angry about. So there’s also a good chance that they have rehearsed their complaint and have a fairly scripted bit of outrage to lay on you. If you interrupt them, there’s a good chance that they’ll simply reset and start from the top.
While you are letting the customer vent, you shouldn’t just be staring into space and trying to find a happy place in your mind until you see that his or her lips have stopped moving. You really need to be paying attention to what they are saying.
By doing this, once you begin asking questions, you won’t put yourself in the situation where the customer says, “Didn’t you listen to anything I just said?”
Be sure to try to hone into everything they are saying in an effort to understand the problem as fully as possible. That way you will be fully prepared to give the best possible reply when the time comes for you to offer a solution.
Kill Them With Kindness
The customer is always right – even the angry ones. It’s important not to get confrontational, no matter how much your basic instincts try to force you into such a response.
Keep your composure, be respectful and show the angry customer that you are not trying to fight them on any issues. It’s also a good idea to express sympathy for their situation and to recognize the fact that they are frustrated.
Many times, the customer wants to coax you into entering a conflict, and once they realize that you’re cool as a cucumber and that it’s not going to happen, there’s a good chance that they are going to cool off too.
No matter how angry they are, statistics show that most customers will do business with you again, even if they were not happy with your business at some point or another. However, data shows that if the problem is fixed quickly and they feel as if you handled the situation well, the chances of them doing business with you again increase drastically.
That’s why it’s always good to follow up with the customer. Keep records of such issues and make sure to reach out once the issue has been resolved. You can call them up to check in, send an email, or even send a handwritten note to show them that their business is important to you.
Dealing with angry customers is probably the worst part of working in retail, but it’s bound to happen. The best thing you can do is approach the situation in a calm and collected manner to prevent it from escalating as best as you can.
It’s never easy, but it’s a reality of the retail world that you are undoubtedly going to encounter every now and then.