Ways to Effectively Respond to Offended Customers

No matter what business you have or how successful it is being run, there will always be a small percentage of customers who simply aren’t satisfied with your products and/or services. When they’re unhappy with your company, some simply walk away to your competitors. Due to social media, however, more and more people are providing negative feedback online, and this feedback can ruin a perfectly good company’s image and the trust and respect of the customers. Due to these reasons, it’s paramount that you and your organization learns how to effectively handle offended customers.

How to Respond When a Customer Offends You

A good start to handling offended customers is to take charge of something that is your control: your attitude. You should handle complaints calmly, clearly, and confidently. Be ready to clarify your understanding of the offending situation and point out any relevant company policies or procedures that might have played a role in the events that transpired. Show that you are open to hearing the customer’s reason(s) for the complaint, and be sure to present how you or your team perceived the original issue, all while steering clear of assigning motive, blame, or guilt. Remember that while your goal may be to resolve the customer’s issue, that doesn’t mean that you should allow the customer to run over you or treat your side of the situation as unworthy of consideration. Lastly, show appreciation for the customer bringing the issue to your attention, and for giving you the chance to make things right and maintain your positive relationship with them.

Tips for Preparing for Customer Complaints

When it comes to dealing with an offended customer specifically, listen to the customer’s experience and consider their point of view without any interruptions first. Empathically communicate: you might not agree with their point of view, but make it clear to them that you’re understanding where they’re coming from. The second tip is to sincerely apologize, even if it’s just for the customer having a less than satisfactory experience with your product and/or service. Focusing on the solution is the third piece of advice: explain what adjustments you will make or what teams you will talk to, ensuring to the customer that the problem will never occur again. While handling a customer complaint, an important fourth tip to consider is that service representatives should not rush to solutions, but should effectively listen to them and offer a solution. The fifth word of advice is to make customer feedback accessible and available on multiple platforms, and to take a proactive strategy to complaints as a way to increase your business’ effectiveness.

Responding to Customer Criticism

Beyond customers being offended by actions that you or someone in your organization have committed, they can also be offended by the things that you or a representative of your company has said. When a customer is offended by something that you’ve said, there are four general responses to it: avoid the issue, switch the subject, deny your responsibility for the issue, or own up to it. Avoiding the issue can make sense if there’s a legal element involved, but it’s best to simply discuss the offending situation to create an opportunity to resolve it. Switching the topic, or pivoting, can be helpful for addressing offensive statements when you switch the focus to future solutions, or switch to the offended party’s perspective. Denying the offensive statement can be effective if you didn’t actually say what you’re being accused of saying, or if there was a misunderstanding that you’d like the chance to clear up. Lastly, you can respond to the offended customer by owning up to what may have been said, and sincerely apologizing, or owning up to your belief in company policy or regulations if those were part of the original issue.

What to Say When a Customer Shames You

Some offended customers may react by shaming you or a customer service colleague, and there are several ways to handle such a move. The first way to go about responding is taking your time to do so, giving your brain time to recover from the customer’s blow. Another way to respond is to not take the shaming personally, and to seek clarity on whether the shaming was intentional or not. Whether intentional or not, keep in mind that a customer shaming you isn’t justified; you may hold yourself accountable for errors or missteps, but don’t accept that this means that you deserve ridicule or belittling by anyone, customers included. If the shaming came from a frequent customer, it may be best to end this particular interaction and consider leaving the issue for another time. Lastly, you could try to handle the situation by understanding the customer’s motivation for disrespecting you, which may help you find a means to correct the customer’s behavior for future interactions.