Dealing Effectively With Angry People

angry customerCustomers and clients get angry for a variety of reasons including:

  • Poor procedures
  • Faulty/poor products/services
  • Lost paperwork
  • Attitude of service providers
  • Miscommunication (or no communication)
  • Unmet expectations
  • Inflexibility in procedures
  • Missed deadlines

“On two occasions you should learn to keep your mouth shut – when swimming and when angry” ANON

Being able to deal with anger is an important part of a service provider’s job. The way in which the angry person is dealt with can mean the difference between the organization’s reputation being maintained positively or being severely damaged. Especially today with everyone being on social media!

Here are some tips and strategies:

  1. Don’t Interrupt

Let them ‘get it off their chest’. Just listen with empathy and concern, ready to help when they are done ranting.

2.  Apologize

Apologize sincerely for what has happened. An apology can be delivered without taking blame however which demonstrates a sincere willingness to help fix the issue.

  1. Anti-mirror their behaviour

Angry people talk fast and loud. Speak slowly and in a normal tone and volume level.  Be measured, respectful and honest in your reply.

  1. Employ active listening & understanding

I hear what you have experienced and agree that should not have happened, so here is what we can do for you.  Or, how would you like to see this resolved?  Let them know that you have heard their concern, paraphrase what you heard and offer a possible solution.

  1. Get the facts

Don’t totally rely on information gained from the customer in their angry phase. Very often they exaggerate or fabricate things because emotions are driving their behaviour.  Ask probing questions and explore with whomever was involved as to what their perception of the issue is before taking action….no problem to get back to angry person once a clearer picture has been discerned.

  1. Use the person’s name

There is nothing sweeter to a person’s ear than the sound of their own name.  It is an excellent way to get their attention, and being to re-build the relationship. Don’t overuse their name, just use it to show respect and gain some trust. The more formal, “Mr. or Mrs.” Would probably be more appropriate in this situation.

  1. Be reassurring and solution minded

Exhibit confidence to show that you are going to be able to work out a solution or compromise that will satisfy the customer.

  1. Offer a Time line for resolution

Try not to say:“It will be done as soon as possible”. Rather give them a reasonable time line such as: “I’ll get back to you within the hour”; or:”It will be delivered within the next 3 days”.  Be sure whatever you promise is possible and then make sure it happens!

  1. Under promise and over deliver

Do everything within your power to offer them something extra: e.g. a shorter time line; a better product or service. Get others onboard to help make something memorable in a positive way happen for this customer. Make sure they are happy with the solution!

If the upset customer is dealt with in a professional, respectful and responsible manner then the company’s reputation can remain intact as that individual will be more likely to remember what you did to fix the problem rather than the problem itself.


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