3 Ways to Win Big When Customers Are Furious

by Jeannie Walters

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customers are furious

Have you ever had to deal with a customer who was really angry?

While most days aren’t perfect, if generally takes a lot for us to get red-in-the-face angry.  Of course there are exceptions to this rule, and some people are just plain nasty. But most of us don’t set out looking for conflict, and that includes your customers.

So let’s talk about when customers are furious- when they are so angry they yell at representatives of your company.  Or when they’re using ALL CAPS in the comment box after rating the “How satisfied are you?” question with a 1 on your survey. What does it mean?

It means they are fed up, quite literally, with trying so hard. Whatever business you’re in, customers expect you to make doing business easy. They expect you to be friendly. They expect you to be rational.

Angry customers choose words that express how they’re feeling.

They select words like frustrated, insulted and disrespected because their expectations of the ideal, or at the very least, the satisfactory experience, have been shattered. Reasonable ways to get attention to their concern have left them feeling neglected, ignored or just plain beat up by the time they express themselves so fiercely.

Angry customers often bear gifts of great knowledge!

Sadly, once customers reach this point, there’s a good possibility it will be the last straw with your brand. But that doesn’t have to chalk up to a total loss on your part. If you let go of your defenses and read between the anger and frustration, there’s lots of valuable insight for the taking.

Here are a few gifts angry customers can give you, if you’re willing to receive them.

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1. They tell you when your employees need more support.

Customers mention employees by name in both good and bad feedback. These employees have a more direct impact on the customer experience than most. If there are cycles of anger, whether it’s a cycle of timing or product launches or when a certain manager runs the call center, employees are mentioned.

Think of these employees as the ones who are asking for your help. They might need a schedule change or better training, or they may simply be the wrong fit! If you see angry comments about specific employees, start looking at what cycles may need adjustment and what kind of support employees need from you.

customers are furious

3. They reveal broken processes.

It may be reasonable to have a 30-Day Return Policy, but if you are receiving angry feedback, it means something is wrong with the policy or how it’s being executed. Perhaps it’s the fine print on the receipt, or how the 30 days begins when the product is ordered but not delivered. Maybe the return process is so difficult it’s worlds away from the magically simple buying process.

Or maybe it’s an arbitrary process that needs to die. Is it there to help or hurt the customer? What would happen if it were extended? Start asking questions and see if there are ways to dial down the anger in the future.

3. They tell you how to communicate more effectively.

When you start seeing words like “misleading,” in customer feedback, it’s time to pay closer attention. What this means is they feel duped and disrespected. They thought they understood the agreement but now find out they didn’t. This is most likely due to communication that is more brand-focused than customer-focused.

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Find out exactly what was communicated and how. Could it be misinterpreted or misread? Were details left out?  Did the customer not read the entire agreement? Well maybe that’s because it’s way too long. What can you do to make it easier to understand?

Never dismiss your angry customers.

It’s easy to do when they make us uncomfortable or defensive. We call them “crazies” or “complainers.” We do whatever we can to get them to stop yelling so we can get on with our day. But they have so much to tell us if we’re just willing to listen!


This post was written for, and a version originally appeared on the blog at CallidusCloud CX.

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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