Know Thyself

Making Peace

No matter what you do for a living, you're in the customer service business. Normally, that's a straightforward job. Answer customers' questions as quickly and thoroughly as possible--and never try to snow someone. However, demonstrating good customer service skills can be a challenge when your customers are upset. Following are some tips to calm angry customers:

  • Listen. Do this above all else. Listen to what the person is saying. Don't get defensive or mad, even if he or she is giving you reason to be. Let the customer air his or her complaint. It may seem overblown, but many times listening alone will do a lot to alleviate the problem. If the customer becomes less frustrated because you paid attention to him or her, he or she will be easier to deal with.
  • Be sincere. There are many courses on customer service; make sure you don't sound like you took one, even if you did. People don't want to hear a number of unenthusiastic or patronizing "yes sirs" or "yes ma'ams" every time they try to explain their problem.
  • Reply with a definite course of action. You don't have to solve the problem right away, but tell the customer what you are going to do. You will fix the product by a certain time; you'll rewrite the copy; you'll find out why something wasn't sent. Even if you don't have an answer, tell the customer how you're going to go about getting one--and when you'll call back with a progress report.
  • Don't get into a shouting match. It doesn't matter how unreasonable the customer is being. Remain calm. Some may be irrational, and you can certainly choose not to do business with those customers in the future. But never act unprofessionally. Remember, if you satisfy an upset customer, not only are you likely to keep the client, but you may end up making him or her one of your best customers.

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