Turning around Irate People

This topic is covered in more detail in our fully designed, ready-to-deliver course material on Exceptional Customer Service.

Feel free to circulate as e-learning to your staff.

Wrong Communication at Work
  • Customer Service

"On two occasions you should learn to keep your mouth shut - when swimming and when angry"


Being able to deal with irateness is an important part of the service provider's job. The way in which the angry person is dealt with can mean the difference between the organisation's reputation being upheld or being severely damaged. Out tips and tactics:

Don't Interrupt
Let them 'get it off their chest'. Keep silent with empathetic noises and body language.

Apologise sincerely (but not too often). An apology can be delivered without taking blame e.g. "I'm sorry you feel like this, Jane"; "I'm really sorry it's come to this"

Anti-mirror their behaviour
Angry people talk fast and loud. Do the opposite to 'encourage' them to come down to your level.

Show listening & understanding
e.g. "I appreciate what you're saying"; "I can see you're feeling frustrated by the delay".

Get the facts
Don't rely on information gained from the customer in their angry phase. Very often they exaggerate or make up things because emotion is driving their behaviour.

Use the person's name
This is more personable and can help re-build the relationship. Don't overuse their name and get the right level of formality i.e. use their first name or Mr/Mrs ........

Be reassurring and solution minded
Give the confidence that you will be able to work out a solution or compromise (where possible).

Time scales for resolution
Avoid saying"It will be done as soon as possible". Give them a time scale such as "I'll get back to you within the hour"; "It will be delivered within the next 3 days"

Under promise and over deliver
Do everything you can to give them something extra e.g. a quicker time scale; a better than normal standard of work. Pull in some favours with colleagues to get things done for the customer.

If the customer is dealt with in a professional, respectful manner then the organisation's reputation can remain intact as they excuse a lapse in what is normally an excellent level of service.

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