5 Practical Ways To Deal With Angry Clients

deal with angry clients

Let me tell you a short story.

A man was in a hurry to go to a meeting. On his way to work, the driver was close to causing an accident due to the car in front of him. Here is the conversation between the driver and the man in a hurry:

“M: How are you so calm with this crazy driver? He almost ruined your car.

D: Well, let me tell you something. People are like garbage trucks.

M: How’s that?

D: Well, they run around with garbage, and they are full of disappointment, full of frustration, full of anger, and when the garbage is full, they need a place to dump it on. And sometimes, they will dump it on you. But you don’t have to take it personally; you just wave, smile, you wish them well, and you move on. Don’t let the garbage spread around your work, home, or on the street.

D: You love the people who treat you right, but you have to pray for those who don’t.

D: Life is 10% of what you make it. What will you do with the rest of the 90%?

Nice story, right? I want to assure you that your clients’ anger is not always due to your fault. There is not a person on this earth that didn’t have a bad day. The question is: how to deal with these people?

To deal with angry clients, you must have that peace of mind to stay focused. I once read this quote that I consider fantastic: 

“For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.”

Now I’m going to share with you a list of 5 practical tips and tricks that will help you deal with your angry clients.

1. Listen, listen, listen

listen to your clients

Listening when someone is yelling at you is by far the hardest thing to do. I remember one time when I had to call a client for a misunderstanding, and he was harsh with me. It wasn’t my fault entirely, but I had to listen to the angry client and his frustration.

You have to actively listen to what the client is saying. This type of listening is called reflective listening. It’s an approach that requires understanding what your client is saying by interpreting their words and body language. After this, respond accordingly, reflecting on the thoughts and feelings you heard from them. Duane Lakin has an excellent book that i recommend – The Unfair Advantage: Sell with NLP! 

Pay close attention to the words your customer is saying instead of focusing on the words’ anger. By actively listening, you’ll be able to figure out what’s making the customer angry and how to resolve his/her issue. You’ll be able to solve their problem and make them satisfied again.

Here are some tips to actively listen to your clients:

  • Put aside distracting thoughts;
  • Don’t mentally formulate your excuses while they’re speaking;
  • Never interrupt their complaining;
  • If you didn’t understand something, ask questions for clarification;
  • Keep an open posture – having open hands faced up helps the other person remain calm and embrace what you are saying.

Situational Example of dealing with angry clients:

Customer: “I’m frustrated because I had an appointment with you, and you forgot about me and my haircut. My time is precious, and I lost time and money because of you.”

You: “Indeed, you are right. I messed things up. I want to fix this, please accept a discount for your next appointment. May I reschedule?”

Your clients need to be understood, and you have to empathize with them.. Also, never promise you’ll fix the situation beyond you because you might not be able to help; therefore, you will make the situation worse.

Instead, demonstrate active listening. Say something like, “That certainly is surprising! Let’s see why you encountered this problem.” This response acknowledges the customer’s feelings without escalating their emotions. 

When you listen to your angry customer, it is a high probability that it will make you angry or emotional. You know how sharks can sense a drop of blood in the ocean? Angry clients can feel when you’re getting angry, and this will only escalate the situation.

2. Keep your calm and don’t take it personally

keep your calm

Remember the story? It’s not your fault every time a customer is angry. I can’t imagine a business that didn’t have to deal with difficult customers. If you disrespect a client during an argument it can reflect negatively on you and your small business. Always keep in mind that maintaining your good reputation is your top priority.

Your clients will mirror the feelings you emit. If you respond with anger, don’t expect they will be friendly with you.

It’s hard not to take that personally. You’ll likely feel angry, and you’ll do your best to defend your work. Instead of being mad, take a second to breathe and process what your customer is saying. In most cases, you’ll realize that the customer is frustrated with your service or work result. Understand that everyone is human, and a strand of hair will not always be where the clients expected. Taking it personally also brings your spirits down, which can affect the quality of your work.

For example, let’s say a customer calls and is upset about her hair color. She has been shouting since the moment you picked up the phone. 

It is a situation where you should remain calm and try to identify the three “what’s”: 

  • what’s the problem;
  • what are the customer’s expectations;
  • what are your options.

This will help you de-escalate the situation. Make it clear to the customer what you’ll do everything you can to fix the problem.

A great solution if you want to make sure you don’t mess up your appointments is using an appointment scheduling app. Appointfix does all the hard work for you: it keeps track of your daily appointments, sends text reminders and follow-ups to clients, and so on. Plus, with the free online booking system, your clients can book appointments themselves 24/7 from any device, without having to call you anymore. You can download the app from the App Store or Google Play and try it for free. 🙂  

3. Be sincere and acknowledge your clients’ feelings

be sincere with clients

Just as important as remaining calm, it’s essential to be honest, too. Customers can tell when you are honest, so make sure your word choice and tone are truthful and respectful.

When someone is firing aggressive or emotive language at you, it’s easy to roll your eyes and dismiss them as crazy. But disregarding a client’s feelings will only inflame them more. Acknowledge their emotions – whether or not they’re justified – so your clients know that they’ve been heard.

These statements can help you, so I recommend using them:

  • I understand this situation is frustrating for you. I would feel the same as you.
  • I understand this has caused you stress and concern, but I would like to help you.

Once you acknowledge, their feelings will be enough to calm them down. Don’t rush them. Be patient and let them get it all out. In some cases, they’ll realize they blew the situation out of proportion and feel foolish for it. They’re then likely to accept nearly any solution you offer.

Situational example dealing with angry clients

Sometimes customers will come to you with a “problem,” but it turns out to be a misunderstanding. It can be tempting for you to poke fun at customers who wrongly blamed your work.

Even if the customer is clearly at fault, their opinion might get shared on social media and review sites. Remember that, and work extra hard to politely explain why an issue occurred and how it can be prevented moving forward.

4. Wait for their calm and find common ground

find common ground with clients

Even if a client loses control and starts yelling insults, you still need to have patience. Do not attempt to argue at this point because no logic is going to breakthrough.

Let your client explain the problem without interrupting. By all means, avoid telling the client to calm down – this usually has  the opposite effect.

Don’t judge your client for things said in the heat of the moment. Try to find some common ground early in the conversation. If you only focus on the point of disagreement, you’ll both feel like you’ve hit a wall and there’s no going forward.

Here are some statements that may be helpful:

  • “I think we can agree that the results did not go as expected.”
  • “I know we are both eager to find a mutually beneficial solution to this.”
  • “Let’s make a plan that works for everyone.”
  • “I know we’re both keen to get these delays resolved as fast as possible.”

Establishing that you have things in common can help generate feelings of empathy and understanding. You don’t want to be at loggerheads for the whole conversation.

5. Be empathic and offer a solution

be empathic

Empathy doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with the customer. It means you truly understand how they feel. 

By understanding how the customer feels, you’ll be able to relate with them on a more personal level. As you have to deal with difficult customers, showing empathy will help de-escalate the issue and show the customer you respect them. Also, agree on a solution. 

After you know exactly what the problem is, you can start fixing it. Propose something specific. Start with whatever will bring them the best and quickest relief. Don’t get into a controversy over pennies at this point.

Once you’ve both agreed on a solution, you need to take action immediately. Explain every step that you’re going to take to fix the problem. Give them the feeling you are in control.

Once the situation has been resolved, follow up with your client over the next few days to make sure they’re happy with the resolution. Whenever you can, go above and beyond their expectations. For instance, you could send a gift certificate, give them a great discount on their next appointment. 

Words to avoid while dealing with angry clients

“I Don’t Know.”

What to say instead: “I don’t know, but I’d be happy to find out for you,” or “I can’t say exactly, but let me talk to {another person}, and I’ll get back to you.”

“Nope”

What to say instead: “I’m sorry, that’s not something that we can do. However, what we can do is…”

“Please Calm Down”

What to say instead: “I’m sorry about that. It must be annoying to [have to deal with whatever they’re dealing with], and I’d be frustrated too.”

“It’s Not Our Fault”

What to say instead: “I’m sorry for how frustrating this situation is, but I’m going to do everything I can to make things right.”

“Sorry, But It’s Our Policy”

You can always do something. It comes down to whether you want to or not. Your client knows it as well. Forget the policy and fix the problem. If you want to mention your policy to show your client that you are going above and beyond to fix his problem, that’s fine.

What to say instead: “Sorry about the frustration, our policy is very clear about these types of situations so I can’t promise you anything certain. But I can promise you I’m going to do everything I can to try and fix this situation..”

Dealing with angry customers is challenging. But if you handle the situation well, you may even be able to improve your relationship and create further opportunities.

Is it worth having patience with your angry clients? That’s a categorical YES. Don’t forget the five takeaways: Listen, Keep your calm and don’t take it personally, Be sincere and acknowledge their feelings, Wait for their calm and find common ground, and finally, Be empathic and offer a solution.

If you’re not sure how to fix a situation, ask your client what will make him/her happy. It’s in your power to get it done as soon as possible. Follow up with your customer to make sure they were delighted with how the situation was resolved.

Daniel Pop

Marketing Specialist at Appointfix

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