Few things are more frightening for a sales professional than an angry customer! But like all scary things, fuming customers are less intimidating if you have an effective, proven process to address and defuse their anger. Here are six tips to deal effectively with angry customers:
- Start with the right frame of mind. Don’t take their anger personally, and understand they just want to be heard and helped.
- Use LAER to understand the issue and defuse their anger. Carew sales training graduates will recall that LAER (Listen ▪ Acknowledge ▪ Explore ▪ Respond) is a key sales strategy for overcoming customer objections. It is equally effective for understanding and defusing customer anger. The mere act of venting and airing concerns will go a long way in defusing the customer’s pent up frustration.
- Take notes. During the Acknowledge step of LAER, you will use verbal and non-verbal forms of acknowledgement (nods, “yes,” “I understand”). Taking notes is a terrific demonstration of acknowledgement and will help you accurately recall important details later.
- Take a moment to apologize to your customer. It’s surprising how often this simple, but crucial, step is forgotten. It is also a natural transition from your Acknowledge step to the Solution step, and it shows that you are taking responsibility for the issue/problem.
- Follow up. Circle back around with your customer a day or two after the problem is resolved to assess your customer’s satisfaction with the solution, as well as his or her overall frame of mind. At this point, you can assess whether additional action or management involvement is needed to fully restore the customer’s satisfaction.
- Analyze and correct. What is viewed as a problem for one customer will likely be problematic for all customers. Take time to trace the problem to its origin, understand how it occurred and fix the root cause to prevent a recurrence, or worse, a proliferation of the issue.
Angry customers concern us because we fear the relationship, or the business, could be at risk. However, if we make it a part of our sales strategy to address a customer’s anger in the appropriate manner (demonstrating our concern, dedication and effectiveness), the process can actually improve the long-term customer relationship!