Angry Customers Part 4 – Do the Opposite

It was brought to my attention that this post had gone missing from the archive. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

Try kindness. Angry customers will often come at you with a negative tone and accusatory language. They are convinced, before they even picked up the phone, that you aren’t going to be helpful. They are expecting to have to claw, bite and fight for any kind of resolution. Usually, by the time the customer has reached this point, it’s because our service delivery system has already failed them, perhaps multiple times.

While it’s hard not to react to the customer with the same attitude, the fact is that a similar response is only going to escalate the customer further. If the customer starts the call by being snippy and accusatory and we respond in an equally accusatory or snippy manner, the customer thinks, “Aha! I was RIGHT! They ARE going to be difficult to work with. I have EVERY RIGHT to get ticked off and yell at them!

We can’t control how a customer is going to react or respond to us. We CAN control how we react and respond the customer. By refusing to respond to the customer in a similar angry, snippy, accusatory manner, we will often give the customer no place to emotionally go with their anger. They want to get angry, scream and yell, but if we refuse to respond in a like manner, the caller will often begin to calm down.

But, we’re not done.

There’s an old proverb that goes like this: “Bless those who curse you, and in so doing it will be like heaping burning coals on their head.” In other words, if you act the opposite of the customer by being extra nice, friendly, helpful and attentive – you will frustrate their desire to be angry. The customer begins to think, “I’m going off on this person, but they’re being nothing but kind and helpful to me!”

I’ve heard many calls through the years in which a CSR calms and angry customer and turns them around. It is almost always because the CSR refused to react in anger, and instead they proactively “killed ’em with kindness” by being appropriately friendly, empathetic and helpful.

Related Posts:

Angry Customers Part 1 – No Magic Pill
Angry Customers Part 2 – Keeping it in Perspective
Angry Customers Part 3 – Breathe
Angry Customers Part 5 – Empathy Resolution Statement

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and louisa_catlover

  6 comments for “Angry Customers Part 4 – Do the Opposite

  1. March 25, 2011 at 2:30 am

    I love this series!

  2. May 17, 2011 at 3:08 am

    Services is the most important parts for any business.  If you have to gave the best service to your customer than they must have to make relationship with kindly.

  3. Joanna
    June 16, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Great post and thanks for addressing the topic of angry customers,
    which unfortunately, are all too common in the contact center
    environment. Though you can tell your staff to be kind, often the only
    way to teach the skill is to first put customer service reps in
    “realistic” situations. Because an angry customer can incite a similar
    reaction or defensive reaction in reps, by first teaching agents how to
    be calm through role playing and practicing, they’ll be able to calmly
    de-escalate calls in real situations.
    Call center training is an invaluable way to assist your staff in de-escalations and how to appropriately handle angry customers.

  4. November 21, 2011 at 3:39 am

    Nice series. Contact center agents have their rules on how to treat and talk to their customers but there are some customers that are really not that kind that may push the contact agent to say unnecessary words. But as long as you can have your patience be it. Be patience as you are. But I also think it depends on the contact center on how to manage it.

  5. jerseyjjckd
    March 16, 2012 at 7:02 am

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