How to Disarm Angry Customers
My very first job that I actually recieved a paycheck for was when I was 16 years old. I was a cashier in the Housewares department of Montgomery Ward. As we were getting our training during the first couple of days the lady that was training us said something I have never forgotten in all my years. What she said is that if you always greet customers with great friendly enthusiasm you will be a lot less likely to encounter a rude customer. She said that it is really difficult for someone to be rude to someone who is very clearly being friendly and nice to them. I found this to be very true. While others complained about horrible rude customers, I can honestly say in my entire life I have only encountered a couple of rude customers, and I have worked a great many jobs over the years.
As a cashier at a department store we also had to take care of returns and sometimes when people have to return things they are not exactly in a good mood. I had seen the customer heading to the counter with body language that clearly said, "I am angry and I am looking for a target for my anger." Seeing such a person approaching some of the cashiers would immediately go in to defense mode. They readied themselves for the fight, changing their body language to that of the irrate customer. Then just as they expected they would get an ear full and basically told off for something they really didn't have any resposibility for or control over. Really all we could do is return their money or exchange the product for them. Cussing out a cashier or customer service person will rarely get you more than that.
When I saw a customer approaching me with their negative energy all around them I did just the opposit of my unfortunate co-workers. I turned on the charm. I would greet these people with a nice big hello, or hi and a big smile and a very enthusiastic, "How can I help you?" Instantly I would watch thier body language change right in front of me. Their shoulders would loosen, thier face would loosen up and while I might not have my smile returned I would get a much calmer explanation of why they were there. My next step would be to tell them that I was sorry that happened to them. Then I would assure them with my positive tone that we would get it all taken care of and then I would do just that. Most of the time I would get an extra grateful smile, a big thank you and a satisfied customer walking away. Really I didn't physically do any more than the other cashiers, but I just met people with a postive happy attitude and really it is hard to be mean to someone who is being nice to you. I took them off their guard and let them know I was there to help them.
The same goes for helping customers on the phone. Sure they can't see your smile, but they can hear it in your voice, and saying the words, "I am so sorry that happened to you", followed by, "Lets see what we can do to make this right, will almost always settle down an angry customer. After all who can yell at someone who is apologizing. While you are not actually taking responsibility for whatever bad thing happened to them you are showing them compassion and sympathy and that is really what they want. Further assuring them that you are going to take care of things for them lets them know you are with them, you understand their frustration and you will do your best to help them.
There are always going to be people in the world that want and need to complain. There is not much you can do about those kind of people. The best you can do is not take it personally; these type of peple get a thrill yelling at people. Just continue to be polite and positive with these types of people even though it is difficult. At very least they will not be able to complain about you.
No matter what field you are in if you have to deal with customers always remember nice breeds nice. If you want customers to be nice to you simply be nice to them first. Most people want to be nice and find it hard being mean to someone who is nice to them.