Of course, the best way to deal with angry customers is to do whatever you can do to prevent them from getting that way in the first place. Barring that, you need a plan to deal with these unhappy souls. To help you remember what you should do when you’re faced with an infuriated customer, here's a handy acronym: RESOLVED. It stands for the following:
Respond to the person who is upset. If you’re dealing with an upset customer, it’s imperative that you respond to him in such a way that he feels heard, attended to, and respected. Take care of the person first and the problem second.
Empathize and apologize. When faced with an upset customer, job #1 is to empathize — that is, to focus on your customer’s emotional state — and to apologize. Dignity and genuine concern are the watchwords here.
Seek to solve the problem. If a customer is upset, you must work to solve her problem. First and foremost, that means cleansing your speech of the phrase “It’s our policy.” If a customer is unhappy, she doesn’t care what your policy is. Second, be aware that the customer doesn’t care what caused her problem. Was it a cumbersome internal process? Are you short-staffed? Frankly, it doesn’t matter. All the customer wants to know is what you’re going to do about it.
Be open to the customer’s proposed solution. Often, the best solutions come from the customers themselves. Customers will frequently devise solutions and alternatives that you would have never considered. Don’t be afraid to ask what would make the customer happy.
Listen intently. To listen intently, you must practice active listening. That is, you must concentrate deeply on what is being said, giving your undivided attention. It isn’t enough to simply hear the message; active listening requires you to pay attention with all of your senses. When you listen in this way, upset customers will begin to calm down.
Verify the solution. After you propose a solution, verify that it’s what the customer wants. Say, “If we do X, Y, and Z, will that satisfy you?” This shows the customer that you will not move forward unless you are both in agreement that the situation is resolved to his satisfaction.
Eliminate the problem. When you and the customer agree on the solution, you must act immediately. Don’t let anything get in the way of implementing the resolution you’ve reached.
Document the problem. After you solve your customer’s problem, you must document it to prevent it from happening again. This can be as simple as jotting down notes about your conversation, or more formal, like entering your notes into a database. In this way, you can track the complaint, maintain a history of it, learn from it, and identify and eliminate preventable problems in the future.