Angry customers: What’s their problem, anyway?
  • sales
  • Blog post

Angry customers: What’s their problem, anyway?

What do angry customers want? Is it:

  1. Revenge?
  2. Restitution?
  3. Relief?

A research study of angry customers (yes, researchers really do look into these things) concluded that for most customers, the answer is #3. Angry customers want their problem fixed. And they’re yelling at you because they believe, deep in their hearts, that you can fix it.

Otherwise, they wouldn’t waste their time talking to you.

Think about it: The deadliest customer isn’t the one who’s raking you over the coals; it’s the one whose opinion of you is so low that you’re not even worth a phone call or e-mail. Such a customer is still angry, of course, but instead of directing the anger at you, he or she is going to direct it out to the world at large – by telling everyone what a bunch of creeps you and your company are. (See Option #1, above.)

So if an angry customer is letting you have it, count your blessings. It means the buyer is still engaged and looking for a solution. If you can provide that solution, it’s still possible to salvage the relationship – or at least get a second chance.

Once you realize that a customer’s anger is really a cry for help, you’ll respond to it differently. Instead of getting defensive or angry yourself, you’ll do what good salespeople do: help customers.

There’s a three-step process that can help you move the conversation in this direction. It’s called the Three R’s.

The first R: REFRAME the customer’s anger. Whenever you encounter an angry customer, take a moment and recognize what’s actually going on. It’s not an attack, it’s a plea for help.

The second R: REASSURE the buyer. The number-one message you MUST communicate is “I am the person who can help you.” Whether its a low-level customer dealing with tech support issues or a C-level executive.

And finally, take RESPONSIBILITY to make sure the problem gets fixed. You don’t have to cave to every demand the customer makes, but you do have to make every effort to find a solution.

The three R’s won’t work every time, but it will go a long way toward showing angry or frustrated customers that you take their issues seriously and want them to be satisfied.

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