Every business owner reaches a point where s/he has to deal with an angry customer. Whether you are answering a customer service call, or whether your angry customer is physically present, you need to know how to handle the situation, and deal with it in a way that reduces the damage to your business.

Deciding what you will do ahead of time can be a great help in reaching an outcome that is least damaging. Here are 4 tips that can help you when dealing with angry customers:

1. Remain Calm, Yet Engaged

One of the best things you can do is remain calm. It’s human nature to want to respond in kind when an angry customer is yelling at you. However, you need to remain calm, yet engaged. Don’t yell back, and try not to get angry. You should also be careful not show that you are irritated or bored. You might be frustrated, but allowing your disdain for the customer to show through is a bad idea because, even if you aren’t yelling, it can still escalate the situation. Be engaged with the customer, calmly showing that you are interested in the problem. This signals that the customer has some validation.

2. Listen and Offer Help

Before you say anything, make sure to listen to the customer. In many cases, angry customers just want validation for their concerns, and they want help fixing the problem. When this is the case, you need to listen to the complaint. When it is time for you to speak, ask this question: “How can we help you?” This cuts to the chase, asking the customer what s/he wants. This can give you a starting point for resolving the issue.

Plus, if you’ve already listened, you have a better chance of understanding the issue, and you can start thinking of ways to solve the problem. If there isn’t much you can do, ask if the customer wants to speak with a manager or supervisor who can better address the problem.

3. Avoid Spreading Blame

You don’t want to blame the customer, putting it on him or her. You also don’t want to admit fault as the company. Try to explain the store’s policy calmly, or ask for more information so you can figure out what went wrong. You can use language like, “I’m sorry that you are experiencing this,” but avoid admitting fault. When you blame the company, you open the situation up for lawsuits. You don’t want to give angry customers that opening.

4. Stay Safe

In some cases, there isn’t much that can be done. I have one entrepreneur friend whose solution to most situations involving angry customers is to offer a refund and move on. He doesn’t get many angry customers, and most of the time it’s easy to resolve issues. However, if someone is truly angry and dissatisfied, he just gives them their money back. This can be a quick solution if you feel like you are getting nowhere.

If you are dealing with angry customers in person, the situation can be trickier. If your attempts to remain calm and be helpful are met with physical aggression and threats, your only option might be to get help from security or phone the police. You need to make sure that you are safe, and that other customers in the vicinity are safe as well, no matter how regrettable the action is.

Dealing with angry customers is never fun, but it’s a part of business. Figure out a plan of action, and you can defuse most situations.

I'm Miranda and I'm a freelance financial journalist and money expert. My specialties are investing, small business/entrepreneurship and personal finance. The journey to business success and financial freedom is best undertaken with fellow travelers.

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