How to handle unhappy and angry customers

Kerrie-Anne Chinn, Content & Editorial Manager

If you work in a customer service role, you’ve no doubt had your share of unhappy or angry customers.

No matter how good you are at your job and regardless of your industry, mistakes can and do happen – products can be faulty, orders can be lost and miscommunications with clients can occur. Some people will also simply be dissatisfied with your product or service.

Dealing with dissatisfied customers is never easy, particularly if they become angry or abusive, and technology has brought new challenges for customer service. Through social media channels, customers have a direct and instant platform and audience for their feedback, including any negative experiences and complaints. All over the world, we’re sharing and ingesting unfiltered opinions on brands, companies and organizations, to a very vast and engaged audience.

With potential customers having ready access to this information, and often basing choices on their fellow customers’ reviews, it’s become even more important for companies and customer service reps to handle unhappy customers in a successful way.

The benefits to customers are clear – by handling complaints and resolutions well, companies (from small business owners to large scale organizations) are offering better service, better outcomes and better solutions.

But did you know that these benefits can also extend to companies and employees? Handling unhappy or angry customers in a proactive and successful way is:

  • Good for the customer
  • Good for your company
  • Good for you

Let’s take a closer look at this.

See Unhappy Customers as an Opportunity

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates

Successfully handling customer complaints is hugely important for your business, with the way you respond to negative feedback making a big difference to customers’ perceptions of your brand.

The best way to respond to complaints is to see them as an opportunity to turn the situation around. With every bad review, angry caller or negative comment on social media, you now have a direct shot at making that customer happy – with how you’ve handled the situation and what you’re offering them as a solution.

When handled well, unhappy or angry customers can be turned around, becoming even more loyal to your company than before.

The Domino’s Effect – Turning the Situation Around

Sound strange? Let’s look at Domino’s, the pizza company, and how they successfully handled negative feedback from their customers.

When faced with unhappy customers and poor reviews, the company responded by changing their pizza recipe, inviting customers to try the new product and leave their honest feedback in social media channels.

As Domino's CEO explains, 

You can either use negative comments to get you down, or you can use them to excite you and energize your process of making a better pizza. We did the latter.”

Customers had a great response to Domino’s handling of the situation. They appreciated that the company showed proactive, transparent responses to criticism and worked to address the situation and find new solutions.

This shows us how important and powerful the successful handling of customer complaints really is.

It’s Important for Staff to Feel Properly Equipped

As well as being important for both your customer base and company, it’s also really vital that you know how to deal with angry or upset customers for your own wellbeing.

Most retail, call centre and customer representative staff will have received training for their roles, however many workers can still feel unequipped to handle really difficult customers or situations. Dealing with people who are upset, or worse, angry and aggressive, has the potential to completely ruin anyone’s day and takes a lot of energy from an individual. If these situations are occurring frequently, employees will very quickly start to resent their job and the people they deal with. You want to avoid that, for all staff.

If you’re someone who struggles dealing with unhappy or angry customers, it could be worthwhile to invest a little extra time into your customer service training. You can learn new ways to communicate with dissatisfied customers, reaching positive solutions for both parties.

Start Your Customer Service Training Online

Online courses such as Dealing with Angry Customers offer very specific suggestions on how you can achieve that, minimizing the negative impact these types of interactions have on both you and your customers.

This course is great in that it recognizes the fact that things can go wrong for various reasons and aims to prepare you for when they do.

It’s focused on telephone customer service, so is particularly suited for call centre operators or customer service reps who are on the phone a lot, however the techniques can also be easily applied for face-to-face service. Throughout the course, you’ll learn 5 communication skills and 16 techniques that you can use to handle specific situations when customers get angry.

Another helpful online course available through the Go1 course marketplace, Angry Customers focuses on building positive relationships with your customers. You’ll learn problem resolution techniques and tips for keeping cool and defusing anger. 

Both courses will better equip you for the next time you’re faced with an unhappy or angry customer at work. By investing some extra time and energy into your professional development, you’ll feel stronger and more confident in your role and happier in the workplace, which as you can see, brings benefits for all.

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