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Turn that frown upside down

Aug 08, 2016

The customer service industry has many demands; one of the most stressful situations a person can be in is trying to deal with an emotional and sometimes angry customer. The general public have the ability to alter their thoughts and opinions at the blink of an eye; therefore it is important to know how to calm a situation down using just your words, attitude and body language.

So how do we accomplish this? It’s easier than you think!

Begin professional, remain professional

When having that initial conversation with a customer who is dissatisfied with your service, always start as you mean to continue. It can be very difficult in certain situations but remember they are your customer and you want to resolve their issue quickly and professionally.  It is very easy to mirror the customer’s aggression as nobody wants to be spoken to in a negative way. The most important thing to do is take a long, deep breath before returning communication. It gives you time to think, calm yourself, and react in the best way possible.


The customer needs to know that you care. The first point of call is to apologise to your customer. The manner in which you do this can be misconstrued as insincere however, so be cautious. When making your apology, you need to mean it! Let the customer know that you can see what the issue is and that you will aim to resolve it as quickly as possible.


Listening is an extremely important aspect to defusing an aggressive situation. Both parties need to understand each other’s situation and from there you can work on how to move forward in helping each other. Ask your customer to explain the full details of what’s happened thus giving you the bigger picture and more information to resolve the issue at hand. Always make notes while listening, especially on the phone as you can then use this to relay back information to them. This not only shows you have been listening, but proves to the customer that you want to do your best.


We’ve all been in situations at some point when we are the customer and we’re unhappy. Think about how you were treated in that situation, what worked for you and what the person dealing with your issue did or didn’t do. By thinking about this you gain an even better understanding of how to deal with the situation and also show empathy for the predicament at hand. Always remember that they may not be angry or upset with you personally, therefore you must always handle it with care and respect.


Always aim to resolve. You want to find a resolution for your customer. This can obviously be a long journey depending on the problem, but always keep your customer informed of your progress. Tell them exactly what you are going to do to solve their issue and how you will do it. This will not only help the customer regain confidence in you and your service, but also turns a negative experience into a positive one.


Finally, make sure that you thank the customer, not only for listening/understanding, but for informing you of the problem in the first place. The only way to improve is to receive information concerning any issues that arise, as well as any positive/negative feedback. Thanking the customer will leave them feeling valued and appreciated.

As you can see, A.L.E.R.T is the word to remember. If you can remember these 5 simple steps in that order, both you and the customer will leave feeling happier with a positive outlook regarding the current situation.