How to handle Angry Customers?


How to handle Angry Customers? Angry Customers
Table of Contents


No matter which industry you work in—be it retail, insurance, healthcare, finance, or any other field—almost everyone in the workforce has encountered an irate customer at some point in their career. While handling an upset customer can be a formidable task, it is possible to do so in a manner that leads to positive outcomes for both you and your organization. Managing an agitated customer calmly, thoughtfully, and proactively can enable you to carry out your duties competently and foster a stronger rapport with that customer. In this article, we will explore the steps you can take to effectively communicate with dissatisfied customers.

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The Importance of Assisting Angry Customers

Dealing with angry or upset customers is a crucial aspect of customer service, no matter the perceived significance of the issue at hand. This article outlines the importance of handling such situations with care and offers key reasons why it matters:

  1. Customer Retention: Effective communication and a resolution-oriented approach can help retain the disgruntled customer for future interactions. By addressing their concerns promptly and professionally, you can turn a potentially lost customer into a loyal one.
  2. Positive Feedback: A customer who is satisfied with how you handle their issue is more likely to change their perspective and provide positive feedback. This feedback can benefit your reputation, whether through positive word-of-mouth or online reviews.
  3. Continuous Improvement: Resolving customer issues provides valuable insights into areas where your organization can improve. Identifying and addressing the root causes of problems can prevent similar issues from recurring, ultimately enhancing the overall customer experience.

Why Value the Feedback of an Unhappy Customer?

Dealing with an irate customer, although disheartening, is often inevitable. When an unfortunate customer experience occurs, it is never too late to address it and certainly not beyond the point of learning from it. It provides an opportunity to turn a negative situation into a positive customer experience. How a business handles an angry customer can significantly influence the customer’s perception of the brand.

Instead of fearing an irate customer, a forward-thinking business can leverage the situation to enhance its product or service and foster a stronger relationship with the customer.

According to the management consultancy group Accenture, companies lose a staggering $1.6 trillion annually due to customer dissatisfaction. Furthermore, only 1 in 25 customers will actually voice their concerns to the business about their experience. This means that most customers do not inform companies when they are dissatisfied. This is a warning to retailers, who risk substantial losses if they are unaware of issues and fail to address them.

Indeed, companies should consider each complaint as a valuable resource. Complaints contain valuable insights that can help organizations improve their offerings and, in turn, provide value to other dissatisfied but silent customers.

How to Effectively Handle Angry Customers

The following are guidelines on how to handle angry customers with finesse and professionalism.

1. Stay Calm

This advice cannot be emphasized enough because it is of paramount importance and easy to overlook. When a customer sends an irate email or begins to express their frustration on a call, it’s natural to feel a surge of anger and defensiveness. Thoughts about how wrong the customer is and how hard you work may flood your mind, quickly triggering your own anger.

Instead, take a moment to breathe and understand what the customer is truly expressing. Beyond their anger, you’ll often find underlying frustration or struggles with your product or service. Recognize that everyone is human and can have moments of vulnerability; don’t take their anger personally or blame them for it. 

However, it is good to note that if a customer becomes disrespectful, abusive, or aggressive in tone or language at any point during the interaction, you have the right to escalate the matter to your supervisor for additional support.

2. Practice Active Listening

Listen carefully to the words the customer is using, rather than fixating on the anger behind those words. Actively listening allows you to identify the root cause of the customer’s frustration and how to resolve the issue. It goes beyond merely consoling them and de-escalating the situation. By closely attending to their angry words, you can respond promptly and effectively to address their concerns.

For example, if a customer enters your store and says, “Your product stopped working a few days after I bought it. I’m truly surprised by how poorly it’s designed.” Pay attention to the word “surprised.” This is the emotion the customer is conveying; they are not necessarily angry, but rather taken aback by your product’s performance. In this case, it may be tempting to respond with, “I understand your frustration,” but notice how this response can heighten their emotions, shifting their perspective from surprise to frustration. Instead, practice active listening by using similar language to acknowledge their feelings. Say something like, “That is indeed surprising! Let’s investigate why your product stopped working unexpectedly.” This response acknowledges the customer’s emotions without exacerbating them.

3. Repeat the Customer’s Concerns

An essential aspect of active listening is ensuring you and the customer are on the same page. Once you’ve identified the root cause of their anger, repeat what you’ve understood to confirm mutual understanding and to convey that their concerns have been acknowledged and will be addressed.

You can initiate this by saying, “What I’m hearing is…” to kickstart the conversation. Then, echo their language back to them as you did in the previous example. If possible, emphasize how the issue is hindering them from achieving their goal. This not only shows that you’ve listened but also that you comprehend why they require your assistance.

4. Thank Them for Sharing Their Concern

When a customer expresses anger and dissatisfaction about a situation, thanking them for bringing the issue to your attention can go a long way in building rapport. A simple thank-you serves to acknowledge their time and patience in discussing the problem while you work toward a resolution.

5. Clarify the Steps for Issue Resolution

Clearly communicate the actions you will take to address the customer’s concerns. Whether it’s a straightforward phone-based solution or a more complex process, articulate your plan of action to make the customer feel valued and at ease.

Example of explaining the steps to resolve the issue:

One effective approach is to create a timeline for the customer. Outline each step you will take and specify when you anticipate completing each one. This provides the customer with a clear understanding of your actions and when they can expect a resolution.

6. Establish a follow-up timeline, if necessary.

Sometimes, issues cannot be resolved in a single call and may require coordination with your supervisor or the submission of an internal request to the product team. In such cases, explain to the customer why you cannot resolve the issue during the call and provide them with a timeline for when they can expect to hear from you next.

The added benefit of this approach is that it allows the customer time to cool off and provides you with an opportunity to seek guidance and feedback from your manager on how to proceed.

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7. Be Sincere

In addition to maintaining a calm demeanor while dealing with an upset customer, it’s crucial to be sincere. Customers can discern when they are being spoken to in a condescending or patronizing manner, so ensure your choice of words and tone is deliberate and respectful. No one appreciates condescension, and even if the customer is irate or raising their voice, it’s essential to take the high road to defuse tension and make the customer feel that they are being treated seriously.

Example of practicing sincerity:

Sometimes, customers may contact you with an “issue” that, upon investigation, turns out to be a customer error. In such situations, it can be tempting for representatives to mock customers who wrongly attribute their troubles to your company.

However, it’s important to remember that the customer’s perspective shapes the quality of the service experience. Even if the customer is clearly at fault, it’s their viewpoint that will be shared on social media and review sites. In such cases, your representatives should strive to courteously explain why the issue occurred and how it can be prevented in the future.

8. Emphasize the Importance of the Case

A common source of frustration for customers is the feeling that their support case is not a priority for your business. This sentiment is particularly prevalent in organizations with large or global customer support teams. When your company handles a high volume of requests daily, some customers may perceive their case as inconsequential and that your team can afford to provide subpar service on occasion.

To dispel this perception, it’s crucial to underscore the significance of the case to the customer, your support team, and your business. Inform them of how you are communicating with key stakeholders and how this communication will directly lead to a quicker resolution. Even if it’s just one representative managing their case, the customer should feel that your entire support team is aware of their issue.

Is Managing Angry Customers Important?

In simple terms, yes. Handling irate customers may pose challenges, but customers who are upset, demanding, or particular are invaluable to your organization’s success, as they present opportunities for business improvement.


Angry customers provide your team with chances to hone their conflict resolution skills. Many customers seek acknowledgment and a platform for their concerns. By actively listening to a customer’s grievances, you can gain an alternative perspective on how your business can enhance its products or services and contribute to the overall growth of your organization.

No organization is immune to encountering difficult customers, but allowing your customers to voice their concerns and being attentive can boost brand loyalty, improve products or services, and enhance conflict resolution skills.

In Conclusion

Managing angry customers is indeed challenging, but it is entirely manageable. Handling such situations professionally can be considered an art, and it offers an opportunity for the organization to embrace a growth mindset. The first step for any company representative dealing with an angry customer is to let the customer express their frustration. Subsequently, respond with respect, patience, and empathy to find a solution.

Incorporating these strategies for managing angry customers will set your business on the path to success and equip your team with the tools to turn challenging situations into positive customer experiences. At the same time, you’ll foster stronger relationships with your customers.

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