Consider this scenario. A customer walks into your store. They talk with your sales staff. After half an hour, they are already shouting expletives, pointing fingers at your employees. Another customer walks in. They wield their smartphone on the ongoing scene. They post the video on Facebook Live. The whole thing goes viral.
Sure, that will give your business media exposure. But it’s for all the wrong reasons. And customers who know better will question why the irate customer in the video got irate in the first place. Your place of business might end up becoming notorious as opposed to famous.
This problem is better prevented than solved. Thankfully, there are strategies you can put in place to avoid any incident involving an irate customer. Here are some of them.
Have a foolproof return merchandise authorization (RMA) system
One of the most common reasons why customers become irate is because the product they purchased did not live up to their expectations. This situation is worsened when a business has an unnecessarily complicated RMA system application in place.
Here it pays to keep the product return process simple. That way you do not have to entertain messages and calls asking the same questions. Also, think of it this way, a returned product will cost you less than the bad publicity that may arise from an irate customer that makes their anger and frustration public on social media.
Have reliable customer service portals
A customer who needs answers to urgent queries will look for your customer service portals, expecting ease from the whole transaction. If this customer is repeatedly subjected to hold music that goes on forever, chances are once their call finally gets through, they have already flared up. Mitigate this problem by ensuring that your customer service portals are as reliable as they can be.
For example, if you use artificial intelligence (AI) for your customer service, make sure the messages and replies sent sound personalized. There’s nothing more frustrating to a customer in need of specific answers than generic replies obviously sent by software.
Have friendly front liners on board
Another oft-cited reason why irate customers go irate is unfriendly sales staff. A customer with disposable income who walks into a store expects to be treated with care. This customer’s ego may be rubbed the wrong way if sales staff act like they could not be bothered.
Make sure to train your staff how to behave while doing their job. Sure, they are humans, and they can’t be expected to feel good and friendly at all times. But at least they should learn how to fake those qualities for the sake of satisfying a customer.
Train staff members on conflict de-escalation
If an incident involving an irate customer cannot be avoided, at the very least ensure that your staff is trained on conflict de-escalation. Basically, the goal of conflict de-escalation within the context of an irate customer is to get the person level-headed to facilitate dialogue. That can be done by avoiding sounding defensive. Also, your team must know how to genuinely empathize with where an irate customer is coming from. Maybe they had to travel a long way to visit your shop. Or they spent a huge percent of their monthly salary on the product they purchased. Those things put their anger in perspective.
Deliver quality products
As mentioned earlier, customers go irate when they cannot figure out how to return unsatisfactory products. The most obvious remedy for this is quality assurance. Your business should have a reliable QA system in place. No item should go out of your warehouse that falls short of the value proposition you promised your customers.
If a mistake has been made and a subpar product was shipped to a customer who quickly sees they’ve been shortchanged, make up for it. Offer freebies or gift certificates. Make the customer feel valued and respected.
Customer satisfaction should be all businesses’ top priority. An irate customer is a manifestation of failed customer service. Although customers are not always right, they are always right to think that they are. The adjustment must come from your business, your staff members.
Remember that customers are the lifeline of your business. One irate customer might not be a huge financial loss. But an incident involving an irate customer should be considered as a wake-up call. It means there’s room for improvement.
Go back to the drawing board with the rest of your team. Explore what went wrong. Brainstorm how to make it better the next time around.