The customer isn’t always right. That being the case, how do you handle an angry customer who just happens to be wrong?

Here’s an example. A client of mine runs a successful e-commerce site. To process a purchase on the client’s site, the buyer must enter the correct “Bill To” address for their credit card. Then, they may enter whatever ship to address they wish if the item is going to a different location. On occasion, buyers will put the ship to address in the bill to form. The transaction will decline because of the mismatch. This is a security feature in the buyer’s best interest.

Occasionally, an enraged buyer will call because their transaction has been declined. Most people understand and simply re-do their transaction. Some don’t understand and get quite nasty. If buyers enter the wrong information, there is nothing the seller can do.

But they still have an angry buyer to handle. The buyers will scream about how they purchase online at other sites and never have problems. That makes it the sellers fault! But not all sites have the same security requirements. By necessity, this particular client of mine must employ the highest possible security measures. Still, the customer is angry. No amount of explaining will calm the angry customer.

There is a point to cease explaining. Some people just won’t “get it”. I call this “petting the shark” because there more you say, the more likely you are to get bit.

After explaining the problem, never say, “there is nothing I can do”. Those words will get you bit every time. You can offer to walk the angry customer through the process. Step by step. You can apologize for the problem and offer to help in any way you can. And if there is nothing more you can do, you can tell the angry customer that because of their problem, you’ll look into a way to avoid the problem in the future and thank them for bringing it to your attention.

In reality, if you get a few calls with the same problem, you need made to make some changes.

The more people you deal with, the greater the likelihood you’ll eventually have an angry customer. Stuff happens. Try to keep in mind that the person at the other end of the problem is frustrated and that leads to irrationality.

If the problem is not recurring, and you’ve sincerely tried to help, sometimes you have to accept that you cannot please everyone every time. Even companies that provide the best service have customers who cannot be pleased. Don’t argue. Don’t try to win. Let them go. As long as you’ve kept your end of the deal, done your best, you can say good-bye with a clear conscience.

Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog
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