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Recently, I had gone to lunch with my husband in a small restaurant near his office. I ordered a Greek Country salad, cheese and tomato pasta and Gap juice (mix of guava and pear). I had almost finished half of my pasta, when I noticed there was a small bit of polythene in my pasta. I called the bearer and showed him the polythene. He took back the pasta and came back with a full plate of the same item. Later, as we were leaving, the manager came over to offer his apologies. I was touched by their customer service. Now I am their regular customer for Sunday brunch. They have found a loyal customer in me.

The customer is the king. He is the one who decides whether your products/services should be a success or not. As an owner of a small business or a customer care manager of an organization, you may have to deal with unhappy or angry customers/clients all the time. Dealing with them is not very easy and they have to be handled with care. However, if you know what to say and how to say it, you might be able to gain their trust. Dealing with unhappy clients/customers can be very challenging. “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning” says Bill Gates. We have put together certain tips that will help you handle such a situation smoothly.

How to Handle Unhappy Customers

Step into your customer’s shoes – If you realize that your customer/client is unhappy, analyze the situation from their point of view. Adjust your mindset to that of your customer’s and focus on solving the problem for them. Keep in mind that all that matters is that your valued customers are happy.

Active listening is the key – Listen carefully to what your angry or unhappy customers have to say. Do not interrupt them when they are speaking. If a customer has sent you an email or written a letter, ensure to respond promptly. A point worth mentioning here is, when you are actively listening, neither should you jump to conclusion of what had happened nor should you solve the situation immediately. Instead, listen carefully to what the client has to tell you.

Use calm and neutral words to start a dialogue – Once the unhappy client is over with his explanation, you should repeat his concern. By doing so, you let him know that you have been listening to him attentively. You should also clarify your doubts to ensure that you have identified the problem correctly. The anger and stress levels of your customer will come down when you agree on his issues.

Empathize and reassure them – Empathize with your unhappy client once you understand the problem. Ensure that your body language matches the tone of your voice while dealing with unhappy customers. Keep in mind that customers are always right, even when you know they are wrong.

Give the customer a solution – Give a solution to correct the situation. If the customer is not happy with your solution, give him/her the opportunity to resolve the issue. Don’t shy away from asking the client to identify what will make him/her happy. Come to an amicable solution that will benefit both you and the client.

Keep in touch with your client – Once the problem has been resolved, you should not put his records in the back burner. It is a good idea to keep in touch with him/her to know if he/she is happy with the service. Occasionally, send a gift or a discount voucher. This way you can reconnect with them and also let them know that you care about them.

Last but not least, if it was the error on your part that made the customer unhappy, you should know how it happened. Find the root of the problem and fix it without any further delay; so an unhappy customer will not turn up in your doorstep again. You should work on improving your conflict resolution skills so you can handle such situations proficiently and professionally.

Flickr image by aleutia

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