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“The customer is always right.”

You’ve probably heard this before. But while this is a simple solution to what can be a tense moment, what do you do when a customer is really pissed off?

Having run two successful businesses in my life, I have a couple tactics when dealing with an angry customer. But there is one that always work, and I want to share it with you today.

Nobody likes a boss who passes the buck.

When I have an angry customer, the very first thing I want to know is if they are right. I talk to the parties involved, and I get all the information possible that I can. In the end, someone has to make a call, and as the boss, that is probably going to have to be you. Nobody likes a boss who passes the buck. Just suck it up and make a decision. You have all the information and it’s up to you to be the judge.

If the customer is 100% right

You apply something that everyone in sales or customer service needs: empathy. You come in with nothing but empathy. I ask questions and I listen before trying to fix it. I’ve talked in the past about how great leaders are listeners. This applies just as much to this situation as well. Listen to show you are committed to understanding the problem. Nobody ever talked their way out of a problem.

Of course, in the end, I want to fix the situation for the customer. But first you have to listen. Whatever it costs me upfront right now doesn’t matter, because they are right and I need to make right by that mistake.

What if they’re totally wrong?

Then there is the other side of the coin. This happens plenty of times as well, maybe even half the time. You might think my answer is going to be the same as above: customer is still right. Maybe. In this situation, I still come with offense. I come to explain to them that I get it, I understand their frustrations, and I have empathy. But I don’t allow them to feel as though they are correct. While I understand their plight, if they are wrong, I want to make sure they understand that. I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this, but I truly believe in it. To maintain customer relationships, sometimes you have to explain the rules.

That is really the way it is.

So, angry customer? Assess the situation. Never try to put your best interest in mind. Don’t try to determine the outcome, what you’re going to get out of it, before the situation is over. If you think they are right, empathize and listen and fix. But if they are wrong, empathize…then make sure you protect your business.

Thanks so much for reading. If you have friends in customer-facing positions, do them a solid and share this with them!