How to handle a customer who is upset with your product?

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Every business wants to have a large pool of happy customers. But in reality, that’s something you have to build and shape over time. Your best customers don’t all come to you at once, they get filtered in with a steady supply of decent to bad ones.

Despite your every possible effort, sometimes customers will complain. The situation is not easy to handle, especially when the customer is upset with your product/service, which is the crux of what you have to offer them. This usually happens either due to a malfunctioning product or improperly high expectations set by customer communication.

Being into sales and marketing, I have a few tips on handling tough customers. Let’s explore those.

While dealing with an upset customer, first of all, one should understand and value the complaint. Your behavior at that time can make or break this interaction. Never allow the customer’s energy to transfer over to you. If they’re angry, don’t get angry back. If they insult you, don’t insult them back. You need to establish a firm psychological frame and show that their emotional outbursts will not change your behavior. This is usually enough to force a customer to calm down.

Going beyond that and into more concrete advice, I try to treat every complaint as an opportunity to improve. Here are five tips for difficult customer situations:

#1 Be an active listener and do your best to understand their grievances. Repeat things they said back in the form of a question. Make certain that they know you understand them.

#2 There is no harm in apologizing if you really are in the wrong If you’re not, then don’t, ever. There’s a time and place for apologies, and using them too liberally only shows a lack of self respect. There’s an old saying I once heard: “It’s impossible to apologize 10 seconds into an argument.” What that means is, if you apologize too quickly, as if by reflex, it was probably out of fear and pressure rather than an agreement that you were in the wrong, which only makes you look like a sycophant. Do not apologize if you don’t think you should, it won’t prove that you care and it won’t make either side feel better.

#3 Be empathetic and maintain a calm tone.

#4 Take responsibility and try to build and maintain trust. It shows you are confident and capable of handling the situation. Don’t make any unrealistic claims. Most unhappy customers get that way do to over-promising and under-delivering, so don’t over-promise further to try and fix the problem.

#5 Try to resolve the issue in the best possible way with minimal disturbance to the customer. Do whatever you can within the protocol of your company. Most effective businesses have a cost threshold for automatic dispute solutions. For instance, maybe for every customer service problem, if it takes $20 or less to fix instantly, rather than doing something more complicated that might irritate the customer, then do that. That way, you only spend one-on-one time dealing with customers when you know it’s saving you money.

By following the above tips, you can handle an upset customer. Keep in mind, every customer is different in behavior and psychology, so more specific advice is going to apply sometimes, and then not apply in others. The above tips are general, though, and work in most situations.

As a side note, I have found there are common objections from customers before they buy anything from you, and these objections also apply to even the concept of “buying” your solution to their customer service problem. In either case, it’s about the same thing: making the customer believe in you.

I describe the most common objections and their solutions in my post: 5 Deep-Seated Customer Doubts That Kill Your Sales (And How to Erase Them). You can also explore the Knowledge Base section on my website for more tips on customer communication.

Please feel free to reply if you have any questions.

Good Luck!



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