How to Handle an Angry Customer
When things go wrong, the front line staff (wait staff and reception) is often the ones that faces the brunt of the customer’s anger. Sometimes it’s not the mistake of the employee but the supporting department example the kitchen or the maintance department. So I often tell my staff that the customer most of the time are not angry at you, it’s because you are the only one in front of them. So naturally you become their target. Sometimes it’s not the hotel or restaurant’s fault, something might have happened on the way to the hotel. As Zig Zigler says in his “See You at the Top “book, they cannot kick the person who makes them angry, so they will kick the innocent cat. To emphasize this point in my training, I have created a funny story to elaborate this issue. It goes like this
“The customer already have driven 3 hours through a winding road, another one kilometre to reach the hotel, there is traffic jam that’s take them an hour or more to slowly reach their destination. On top of that, the air conditioner is not working and it rains therefore they cannot wind down the windscreen. To add to their bad luck, somebody lets go gas in the car. And to make matters worse, it’s the driver’s mother in law who is the culprit. So when they reach the hotel, they will eventually blow up at the slightest mistake, even the sight of you smiling at them. So think about, the customer is not angry at you just what has happened to him on the way up. “
Train Staff to Handle Angry Customers
Therefore it’s best to have a training programme to help the personnel to resolve conflicts. If your staffs are not properly trained, they may hide away or handle the situation wrongly. That’s when you lose the customer; if the situation is handles right then you will gain a loyal customer. Below is another training module that I use in Good Customer Service trainings. Add some role play into these trainings to make the training session livelier.
Step 1.Observe the customer’s body language.
Body language is the best indicators on how angry the customer is. You can notice it the minute he walks in. Are their arms crossed, shoulders hunched, restless, staring or acting rude? Even the way he walks can tell you how angry he is. Is he walking to you fast with his hands clenched? Don’t forget to observe your own body language too, remember the customer is not angry at you. Introduce yourself professionally, and be polite. Try not to have the “Oh shoot, an angry customer. Boy does he look mad.” look on your face. Most people can see right through it. When talking to him observe your tone of voice, what you say. Try not to make him wait; look up from your paper work immediately. When talking to him always maintain eye contact. Looking away will give him the impression that you have made the mistake and is afraid of him.
Step 2. Listen and don’t interrupt the customer
Let the customer start first and listen attentively until he has finished speaking. Don’t interrupt. Always maintain eye contact even if he is yelling. Keep in your mind that he is not angry at you. Most of the time its best to let him let of some steam. Show him that you are paying attention by repeating some of the important points brought up and assure him that you understand and intend to help. Note down the important points so as not to miss out anything but don’t forget to look up from your notebook. Show empathy; put yourself in his shoes how would you feel if the same thing happened to you. If both of you are standing up invite him to have a seat. Most people will cool down if they are seated.
3. be very careful on the words you use.
Words like “I only work here,” “It’s against our store policy” “I’m only following the rules.” will sure to make matters worse. Most people doesn’t care if it’s against hotel policy, he just wants a solution. Assure him you will do your best to solve his problem. If the problem cannot be solved immediately, make sure you inform the customer you will do your best to get an answer and when you will get back to him. If possible let him know when you will contact him with the answer. And make sure you follow through with a response. Don’t forget to get the necessary information so as you can contact him later. Many a times we forget to get a customer’s contact info cause we want to get rid of him as fast as possible.
4. If you cannot solve his situation.
If you cannot solve his situation, then it is acceptable to refer the customer to your superior or to a person who could solve it. But make sure you explain this to the customer. Just explain to him that your supervisor will see to his complaint, give him their name and contact information. Again don’t make it look like you want to get rid of him or trying to pass the buck to another person. Explain that your supervisor is a person who will be able to assist in his problem. Always let your supervisor knows every detail before he/ she meets the customer. This is so he/ she can be prepared before seeing the customer. I never like handling complaints that I don’t know head or tail what’s going on.
5. Check back for Satisfaction
After you have solved his problem, check back with him if he is satisfied with your help. If you go the extra mile to help solve his problems this will then ensure his loyalty to your company and also to you. I have noticed that most people prefer to go back to the person that have help solved their problems because they have a high level of trust in you.
A Trained Staff can make an Angry Customer Happy
No matter how well you train your staff or set up your restaurant, you will sometimes come across people who are not happy but if we handle the situation professionally we can turn the situation around and thus built repeat business for us. Keeping customers coming back is the best way to keep profit rolling in. One must remember most customers don’t like complaining and there is a very small percentage who simply likes complaining. Remember “The customer is the Life Blood of any Business”
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