How To Make Angry Or Upset Customers Happy
January 2, 2015 2 Comments
People hear what they expect to hear.
Angry or upset customers are often closed to hearing anything other than what they expect. So, if they expect bad news or poor service that’s what they’ll experience. If you want to help, persuade or influence upset customers, one of the best ways is to patiently listen to their story.
If you won’t listen to them, it’s less likely they’ll listen to you.
Every story lets us share complex details like experiences, behaviour and reasoning. Stories also let us express feelings, values, beliefs and expectations.
When you understand a persons story, you begin to understand him or her. This doesn’t mean you have to agree – but when a customer feels someone is trying to understand them, their emotional guards begin to soften and their ability to listen to options and to compromise begin to evolve. By feeling listened to, customers are also more likely to listen to your story and agree your story is relevant to them / their situation.
Customer Stories Are Filled With Valuable Information
The story of an angry or upset customer is filled with valuable information like their experiences, frustrations and expectations (this sentence is really important – you might want to re-read it). By mindfully listening to their story you receive clues you can use to find a solution and / or to customize your story to make it more relevant. Their story also suggests what words you can use to have the greatest impact.
It’s at this time that you can share your story. And because you’ve practiced mindful listening, this is also the moment you will be creating a better – longer lasting solution / resolution.
Keep Your Stories And Language Simple
It’s hard to communicate your message and influence others (especially when they are angry or upset), when people are confused or bored. The language you use is very important. Messages are more easily understood when you use simple, familiar language; although in highly specialized situations using jargon and acronyms (to a select audience only) can demonstrate your expertise.
Use language to evoke a mental image and / or an emotional reaction. For example, use ‘Leader’ vs. ‘Manager’. Choose simple words or phrases that hold meaning and that infer a strong emotional message and intention. For example:
- Instead of ‘Cheap’ use ‘Inexpensive’
- Instead of ‘Expansion’ use ‘Upgrade’ or ‘Enhancement’
- Instead of ‘Adjust’ use ‘Customize’
- Instead of ‘Self Service’ use ‘Unrestricted Access’
How To Share Stories
Whenever you can, share your stories face-to-face or over the phone.
If you are trying to share information using a written letter or case study, your message has to be very simple and direct, preferably focusing on one idea and one objective. This type of writing is not only very challenging, it often doesn’t meet your objectives because it’s difficult to anticipate the needs and feelings of your audience.
Email is an even poorer way of sharing a story with angry or upset customers. Email isn’t about sharing, it’s about telling. One of the most significant challenges with email other than its inability to express tone (same as letter writing), is that most of us have become impatient with long email messages and begin skimming and injecting our emotion (which is not good if your customer is angry or upset).
Recently conference calls, online video and interactive web conferencing have become popular. I suggest this is only slightly better than email because of the restriction to be fully interactive lack the richness of face-to-face engagement. In addition, most people admit to being decidedly distracted by choosing to multitask during a conference call or online video.
Whenever you can, try to have a face-to-face dialogue with angry or upset customers that starts with active, mindful listening.
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