There are many ways to deal with an upset client, specifically the yelling type of client. I guess most people would simply like to yell right back at them, hang the phone up or something equally expressive.
But who are we kidding? That’s neither productive nor polite!
Client service providers (like me, I specialize in client care) sometimes deal with angry clients, and while we all wish an angry client would voice complaints in a calm and collected manner, that is unfortunately not always the case. Often, the problem is simply lack of communication. It is our job to approach the situation calmly and efficiently, diffuse the emotion and attend to the issue.
Stay Calm and Listen
One of the most important things to remember when a client is yelling and screaming is to simply STAY CALM!
Getting through to an overly angry client requires you to ‘keep your cool’ at all times and maintain your professionalism. Yes, this is much easier said than done, but it is crucial. When I have a client who is shouting, I try to listen to what is really bothering him and understand that while the issue may not be personal for me, it might very well be extremely personal for the client.
After all, this could be a project, a business or venture in which they have invested years. I make every effort to let him express his frustration until he is done venting. Even if the angry client is right, and the error is on the company’s part, we all make mistakes from time to time. The client often knows that deep down, too. Remember, the angry client is typically under some sort of pressure and this is his way of expressing it. Once he realizes that he is the only one yelling, he will most likely begin to calm down.
Appreciation and Acknowledgment
Ok, so he’s done. There is silence on the line and that awkward moment has been going on for just a little too long now.
Quick, take the initiative and express how sorry you are that he feels that way. You know the angry client deserves that. Don’t be sarcastic about it; be sympathetic and understand him. His problem is also your problem, so communicate strongly that you would like to help him find the best solution.
Do not minimize the problem because that will most likely make him even more upset. Your apology will let the angry client know that you are truly sorry (because you are) about the situation and that you will do everything in your power to come up with the right solution (which you will). Yes, we all know, the error may be entirely elsewhere, but it is still important to acknowledge your client’s problem and show empathy and appreciation.
Finding a Solution
When coming up with a solution to the problem it is very important to remember not to promise the client something you cannot deliver. It might seem like a great way to get him off the phone and out of your hair but at the end of the day, keep it real! Selling him some story will often come back and bite you… well, you know where.
The Next Time
There is every possibility that you will have the opportunity to speak with the same clients repeatedly, either in follow up or on future communications – so let’s talk about how we maintain a client we want, even though we know he may get upset again in the future.
We like to think of ourselves as smart people, so let’s be smart with our clients. When we need to perform a service for them, we need to know what they need to be accomplished, how they want it done, and what obstacles may exist. Be ready for your clients at all times. Learn to predict their questions and learn to think along with them if not ahead of them – but don’t guess or assume; always ensure that both of you have all the relevant information.
It’s not easy, but a dedicated client service provider will do that for his or her client base. Provide your client with up to date information throughout the course of the service, whether it’s daily, weekly or even monthly. This information keeps them in the loop and you out of trouble. After all, if it was a lack of communication that caused the problems in the past, then the best way of dealing with them is ensuring that doesn’t happen in the future.
Submitted by Nadine