10 Tips For Dealing With Upset Customers

By Kelly Watkins | Keep Customers

1. It is cheaper to solve the problem. It costs six times more to obtain a new customer than it does to retain a current one. Keep the customers you have. (New research: it can cost up to ten times more!)

2. Realize complaints are good. Only 4% of upset customers complain. The other 96% simply leave and never come back. A complaint gives you the opportunity to resolve the situation.

3. Create a customer for life. When you solve a problem by meeting (or exceeding) expectations, you develop customer loyalty. (However, please don’t go start problems, just so you can solve them and create loyal customers!)

4. The customer is always . . . the customer. Do not say to yourself “the customer is right.” That implies you are wrong. Instead, remind yourself that this person is a valued customer, and you need to do whatever it takes to satisfy him/her.

5. Offer alternatives. Instead of saying, “This is the only thing I can do,” try saying, “Here are two options.” The customer may not be thrilled with the selections, but at least he/she gets to make the choice.

6. Laugh – after the customer leaves. In the end, most of these incidents are funny. Look for the humor after the situation is resolved. Laughter is a great way to reduce stress and relieve tension.

7. Do not solve the problem right away. What?!?! Fight the urge to jump in and solve the problem. The customer’s initial objective is to “vent” and express emotion. Listen first, then offer solutions. If you interrupt too soon, the person will not be ready to listen to you or to accept your resolutions.

8. Do not get defensive. When you hear the words “upset customer,” it is natural to put up your guard. Instead, keep an open mind. You’ll be more receptive to listening.

9. Do not take it personally. Easier said than done! Keep in mind that most people have not been taught how to “complain properly.” Customers know they are upset, but they do not know how to tell you nicely. Even if it sounds as though you are being attacked, customers are not mad at you personally. They are upset at the situation.

10. Keep it in perspective. You may have served 50 cheerful people today. Do not let one bad-tempered person ruin the whole day.

Source: Kelly J. Watkins, www.keepcustomers.com

Related Reading
Web Design – Dealing With Client Personalities
Common Sense Management #1
Customer No-Service


9 thoughts on “10 Tips For Dealing With Upset Customers

  1. this is probably one of the best articles on dealing with customers and business that I’ve read in a while… I have to deal with clients all the time and I assure you, the customer is not always right. :-p One of the best things that you can do, I agree, is to not let things get personal. It’s just business. It’s hard not to take offense when someone takes their business elsewhere after you’ve been doing business with them for a while, but if you cannot accommodate their needs anymore, it’s not their fault they have to go somewhere else to get what they need. If you can master the art of dealing with customers (happy or otherwise), you’ll be a rich person.

  2. @phennylady-

    Good observation. I had a client that I had to graciously “let go” because he wanted an inferior product! This was ultimately bad for my reputation — I did not want to be associated with the project. I ended up having to eat some of the costs, but I was much happier having go rid of the customer who thought he “knew best”.

    Anyone else had similar experiences?


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