By Jeff Mowatt

Dealing with upset customers is like feeding bears. Most will be happy you’re there, but a few will get really ugly if you don’t give them what they want. When things go wrong, how well is your team equipped? Having trained customer service teams for over 25 years – particularly those dealing with customers who are frustrated or stressed – I’ve put together this list of frequently asked questions about how to deal with internet trolls and regain lost trust with upset customers.

How should you respond to internet trolls and clients who post rude or unfair comments?

First, gather the facts to determine whether this is an actual client expressing a legitimate concern, or just an internet troll trying to provoke a response. In the case of a troll comment like, “This guy is horrible” (with no details), don’t reply. The sooner that negative post is buried by overwhelmingly positive customer comments, the better.

When you do receive unflattering ratings and comments from actual customers, first try to contact them by phone to resolve the matter offline. If that’s not possible, then when replying in writing, stick to facts (not opinions) and remain professional and reasoned – not emotional. If there was indeed an error on your team’s part, apologize for the hassle and offer a remedy. Mention the steps you’ll take to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Express your appreciation for the client bringing it to your attention.

How do you deal with a client who is swearing at you on the phone?

Say this: “I want to help you. Using that language is preventing me from focusing on resolving this for you, so I’m going to ask you to talk with me without using that language.”

If they continue the profanity then say, “As I said before, I want to help you. However, I’m not going to do so when you’re using that language, so I’m going to hang up. Please call back when you’re ready to talk about this without that language. Good bye.”

Then tell your broker/manager about the conversation so they’ll be forewarned.

What’s the fastest way to get an angry client to calm down?

Listen without interrupting. After they finish venting, your first words should be, “That sounds frustrating.” Consider how this misstep may be affecting the customer and let them know that you get it. Take ownership and apologize for any shortfall or misunderstanding.

Why are clients ruder on the internet and on the phone than in person?

Anonymity. Like road raging drivers in cars, people phoning in think they won’t be recognized.

What are other strategies for dealing with upset clients?

Tone it down – literally. By slowing your rate of speech and slightly lowering your voice tone, you sound less emotional and more rational. Speaking of speaking, don’t dumb down your language or over use filler words: kinda, sorta, like, ya know. The more articulate you are, the more intelligent you’ll be perceived to be, and the more respect you’ll garner.

How can I get my staff to really care about unhappy clients?

Begin by hiring people who have some history in caring for others. Check if they volunteered or played on sports teams; indicating they’ve learned to work with others and it isn’t always about them. Then provide them with proper customer communication training. Fortunately, employees don’t have to become proverbial bleeding hearts to effectively resolve client concerns. They do however, need to learn techniques to put clients’ minds at ease. Contrast for example, when an untrained employee says, “I’ll deal with it,” versus, after we train them, employees instead say, “I’ll take care of it for you.” By simply changing a few words, service providers create better feelings for everyone.

Bottom line: By equipping employees with the proper customer service training, you end up with less staff turnover and fewer social media comments that bruise your brand. Best of all, employees discover that when you learn how to recover trust with unhappy customers, those formerly angry bruins can become teddy bears.



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