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The event of an angry customer can become an opportunity to build a stronger relationship.
The event of an angry customer can become an opportunity to build a stronger relationship.

You can win big when customers are furious

Ever had to deal with a customer who was really angry? It generally takes a lot for people to get red-in-the-face mad but JEANNIE WALTERS says staff who get to the root cause of the issue will learn from the experience.

Most people don’t set out to be angry. There are exceptions to this rule and some people are just plain nasty; however, generally speaking, customers don’t usually enter stores looking to initiate conflict.

What can businesses do when customers are furious, when they are so angry that they yell at staff or use ALL CAPS in the comment box after rating a business one out of five stars on the “How satisfied are you?” scale?

What does it mean to experience this level of anger from a customer?

It means a person is fed up, quite literally, with trying so hard. It doesn’t matter in which industry a business operates.

Customers expect the process of dealing with an organisation to be easy. They expect staff to be friendly and they also expect staff to be rational.

Unlocking emotions with words

Angry customers select words like ‘frustrated’, ‘insulted’ and ‘disrespected’ to describe how they are feeling because their expectations of an ideal shopping experience have ultimately been shattered.

They’ve taken what they feel are reasonable methods to express their concerns and have instead been left feeling neglected, ignored or just plain beat up by the time they finally do get an audience with the offending business.

There’s knowledge in anger

Sadly, once customers reach this point, there’s a good possibility it will be the last straw with a business; however, it doesn’t have to be chalked up as a total loss on the organisation’s part.

If business owners and staff lower their defences and read between the lines of anger and frustration, there are valuable insights for the taking.

What follows are a few gifts that angry customers might provide to retailers who are willing to receive them.

1. Naming staff – Customers will indicate times that employees need more support – customers mention staff by name in both good and bad feedback when these employees have had a direct impact upon the customer’s experience.

If there are angry comments about specific employees, start looking at when these incidents are occurring. Perhaps there’s a cycle here.

Customers might be expressing more anger during product launches or on days that a certain staff member is managing the store. Are staff receiving adequate support during these times? Once cycles are identified, adjustments can be made such as schedule changes or better employee training.

2. Policies needed – Customers reveal broken processes – it may be reasonable to have an in-store financial option, lay-by term or returns policy but if retailers are receiving angry feedback then something is wrong with the policy or its execution.

Perhaps it’s the fine print on the receipt, perhaps the finance option is not flexible enough or maybe the returns process is too difficult and worlds away from the buying process. Maybe it’s an arbitrary process that needs to die. Is it there to help or hurt the customer? What would happen if the return policy were extended, for example? Start asking questions and ascertain if there are ways to dial down the anger in the future.

3. Attention to word choice – Customers will indicate how to communicate more effectively – when words like ‘misleading’ start appearing in customer feedback, it’s time to pay closer attention.

What this means is that consumers feel duped and disrespected; they thought they understood the agreement but now find out they didn’t.

This is most likely due to communication that is more organisation-focused than customer-focused.

Find out exactly what was communicated and how. Could it be misinterpreted or misread? Were details left out? Did the customer not read the entire agreement? Well maybe that’s because it’s way too long. What can be done to make it easier to understand?

Never dismiss angry customers

It’s easy to dismiss angry customers when they make owners, managers and staff feel uncomfortable, defensive or threatened. Staff call these customers ‘crazies’ or ‘complainers’ and do whatever they can to stop them yelling and get them out of the store; however, angry customers have so much to tell if businesses are just willing to listen.

This article was originally published by CallidusCloud CX. Visit: calliduscloudcx.com

Jeannie Walters

Contributor • Experience Investigators

Jeannie Walters is founder and CEO of Experience Investigators. Learn more: experienceinvestigators.com

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