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Tips for calming an irate customer

One of the biggest nightmares for any manager, business owner, or employee, is calming an irate customer. More often than not, it seems as if the customer does not actually even want the problem solved, but would rather just complain as loudly as possible. However, with some patience and some well-chosen words, you can calm down your irate customer and ensure that you will be able to keep that customer's business (if you still want it, of course!).

You need to realize when dealing with an irate customer that more often than not, they are simply frustrated and upset because either a particular product, an employee, or your company has let them down. You need to do more than simply solving the problem that it immediately at hand-the customer has more fundamental emotional needs that need to be taken care of. Taking care of these needs are what will really calm down any irate customer that you may have to deal with.

1. Do not let the angry customer affect you in any way

It is incredibly important that you as the business manager or the employee working with the irate customer that you stay emotionally disconnected from the situation. If you get emotionally involved or affected, then there will be no way that you can solve the situation-you'll be too upset yourself. Listen non-defensively. Also actively listen to the customer. More often than not, an angry customer will start to attack you personally and will be making emotional remarks. Stay emotionally out of the situation and do not get sucked in by any painful remarks the customer might make. Remember: they're just generally angry. Any personal remarks are a result of their general anger, since they don't actually know you personally.

2. Listen to your customers!

Even if you are listening, if you do not sound like you are listening or look like you are listening, the angry and irate customer will not believe that you are listening. Respond to comments and let the customer know that you actually care about him or her. Looking and sounding like you are listening (and really listen!) will help the customer feel and know that you are interested in his or her problem.

3. Avoid saying sorry

"Sorry" essentially does not mean anything in today's society. People say it all the time, and everybody knows that it essentially has no meaning behind it. Sorry is a way to move past the situation and get out of it. Instead of saying sorry, say "I apologize for..." or "I regret and I apologize..." If you do have to say "sorry", make sure that you include it as part of a full sentence: "I'm sorry that the popcorn was not to your liking, as you asked for." Try to use the customer's name, also.

4. Empathize with the customer

Empathy is not just saying "Oh yeah, I understand," or just agreeing, but is accepting what the customer says and what the customer is feeling. It's easy to tell if somebody if faking empathy, so work hard to be genuine in your response.

5. Form a connection with your customer

You can build rapport with your customer by putting yourself in the picture when you respond with empathy. "Oh, I understand. I don't like it either when they put extra butter on my popcorn after I ask them not to." But make sure that you can continue this line of rapport with action-reporting the problem to the manager, giving a refund, giving a discount, etc.

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