How To Handle Irate or Angry Customers, Would You Want This?
by Kate Nasser |
In a recent post on Bury These Phrases for the Best Teamwork, I buried the phrase “I am sorry you feel that way …”. It is a masquerade of an apology that scars team relationships.
One visitor to my blog, asked me if it was acceptable, however, to say that to an irate, angry, or upset customer? She went on to say that in several training workshops on how to handle irate or angry customers, they teach this and actually require the CSRs to say it. “So that you do not need to verbalize an apology, use I am sorry you feel that way to diffuse the emotion and move on to solving the issue at hand.”
This is an abomination. Irate customers are adults who have lost trust and that is where the emotion begins. They want to be heard. The worst thing you can do is dance around and try to avoid responsibility.
I have been teaching how to handle irate customers for 20+ years and cringe at the thought of anyone teaching dedicated CSRs or technical support reps to say I am sorry you feel that way.
It is as bad as calm down and relax. In essence you are telling the customer that their emotion is unacceptable and that you are not responsible.
Let the irate, angry or upset customers vent their frustrations verbally. When they come up for air, there are several statements you can use one of which is a true apology for their experience. Yet if your company truly wants to avoid an apology (why I do not know), at least validate the irate customer’s emotion with something like “Clearly we have upset you. Let’s fix this now…” or “I hear your frustration and I am here to fix it.”
If you want customer loyalty, use “Clearly we have upset you and we are sorry. I am here to resolve the issues.” Stay away from “I understand”. Irate and angry customers are speaking from emotion. Most interpret “I understand” to mean “I understand your pain” which you don’t — and they yell that back at you.
What do you think? When you are the irate or angry customer, would you want someone to say to you “I am sorry you feel that way …”?
By the way, if you want more information on how to stay positive and objective with an irate or angry customer, here are two posts with key images: The Best Mindset and Training to Deal with Irate Customers and 5 Things to Think with Thorny Customers.
©2010 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach, delivers top notch workshops on customer service and teamwork people-skills for transformational results. See the workshop outlines on this site.