irate customer | Customer Service Solutions, Inc. - Page 14

Talk About Yourself to Build Customer Confidence - 4/16/24


When you’re dealing with somebody who is anxious or nervous about a situation, a customer who feels like they don’t have much control, an individual who is unsure and uncertain, it’s important to put the customer at ease.  It’s important to build their comfort level.  It’s important to help Read more

The Proven Value in What You Do - 4/9/24


Forbes wrote an article last year based on a compilation of the results of research on customer service and the customer experience; it was titled:  100 Customer Experience Stats For 2023. In reading the article, you’ll note that many of these key research findings are about you – the value Read more

A Tale of Two Texts - 4/2/24


Having to get allergy shots once a week is never fun, and for Janet, it became an even bigger frustration. She had the shots typically scheduled on Tuesday around 10:30 in the morning, figuring she would avoid the morning rush as well as the lunch rush by going mid-morning.  However, Read more

The Secret Sauce for Great Customer Service - 3/26/24


I was working with the League Office for a major American sport several years back, and one of the executives asked me to describe our Secret Sauce that helped our clients improve the fan experience and customer retention.  I gave him a sense of what makes us unique and Read more

The Miracle of an Apology - 3/19/24


Unfortunate but true story… The manager basically lost his mind.  He terminated his employee on the spot.  She had told the customer that there was going to be a delay in the shipment.  The employee called up the customer ahead of time to let the customer know what was about Read more

It’s Not About the 5-Minute Wait - 3/12/24


Robert went into his supervisor’s office to update her on a situation at the payment desk.  Robert said that a customer was about fourth or fifth in line, waiting to be served, and the customer was complaining loudly about the wait.  He was there to make a property tax Read more

Lessons from the Greats - 3/5/24


I was recently facilitating a workshop on the customer experience, and I made the point that it’s usually beneficial to look at your personal life for great experiences; identify what really resonates with you in a positive way in order to uncover ideas to improve your own customer service. So, Read more

The Empathy Roadmap - 2/27/24


For some people, empathy comes naturally.  There’s an innate desire to learn about the other person and to sincerely convey that sense of interest and caring.  But for many of us, sometimes it helps to have a communication plan.  It helps to know what to do in order to Read more

“You’re the Boss” - 2/20/24


Terrence is excellent at what he does.  From a technical standpoint, he knows how to keep the facility clean.  He’s the lead custodian, and he knows that keeping things straight does not necessarily mean keeping things sanitary.  He knows what chemicals to use and not to use, how to Read more

Customer Understanding Leads to Relationship Growth - 2/13/24


We’ve worked with educational organizations at all grade levels over the years.  One special and unique characteristic about the staff who work in these organizations is that there’s a clear intent to know about the students as individuals, to focus on them rather than purely focusing on what’s delivered Read more

Breaking Down the Infamous 1-on-1 Retention Call – 8/26/14 TOW

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


I referenced the infamous recorded Comcast Retention call in a Tip of the Week on July 22. It’s been such a lightning rod for discussion that we just recorded a podcast addressing some of the key language that the Comcast representative used during the call. Now, we’ve gained access to what’s reported as being the company’s 13-Step Retention Call Approach. Let’s analyze this from the customer’s perspective.

  1. Greet customer clearly – This is good; customers want to know the employee’s name and department to make sure they called the right place.
  2. Clarify reason for call – We always say “Clarify and Confirm” – ask clarifying questions, then confirm your understanding. Customers want the employee showing that they know the reason for calling (and, in this case, canceling their service).
  3. Relate and empathize – Love this – especially the Empathy portion. Customers want to be understood.
  4. Take control – Not sure why this is here; “control” has a power/aggressive connotation. It’s not good to encourage representatives to get aggressive with a typically-upset customer. Customers don’t want to be controlled.
  5. Set the agenda – Again, this conveys aggression, taking over, not focused on listening.
  6. Ask targeted questions – This may be fine, depending on the definition of “Targeted.” We use that word to illustrate questions unique to the customer and their situation. However, the employee asked “targeted” questions such as “Why would you not want the fastest internet?” This is pushy and derogatory at the same time.
  7. Consider unstated needs / active listening – Active Listening is great! However, “unstated needs” is sales terminology. If someone wants to cancel, you’re in Service Recovery territory, not hardcore sales territory.
  8. Take ownership / make offer – These should work well.
  9. Overcome objections – This is fine as long as the customer’s still willing to dialogue about the issue; if they want to avoid the debate, quickly cancel and go to step 12.
  10. Close the save – Change this to “Close the save…or close the account.” In the end, do what the customer wants you to do.
  11. Confirm details – Always confirm next steps before closing.
  12. End on a positive note – Good step.
  13. Documentation – Good step.

Many of the steps are positive, but where they go wrong is that they focus too much on controlling the customer in a hardcore sales manner instead of communicating with a customer in a Service Recovery mindset.

When a customer wants to cancel or end the relationship, feel free to professionally ask for reasons, but remember that you’re delivering customer service, not driving the hard sell. You may retain just as many, and you’ll definitely avoid the horrific word-of-mouth that this call created.

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Defend without Being Defensive – 7/8/14 TOW

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The customer is not always right. Sometimes they’re flat out wrong. Your co-workers aren’t perfect. Sometimes they don’t return the call, or they’re rude, or they provide misinformation, or they set unrealistic expectations. People make mistakes.

When apologizing to the customer, you sometimes have to say “I’m sorry” or “I apologize,” but those words are hard to come by when that customer is wrong. Those words are difficult to share when they’re criticizing your co-worker.

At the same time that you’re trying to defuse that irate customer, we suggest that you do two things that can seemingly be in conflict: Support your co-workers, and don’t get defensive.

So how do you defend without getting defensive?

Think of defensiveness as having an emotional quality, where you’re trying to protect the co-worker or company, maybe you’re trying to deflect blame from yourself. While these are all natural things to want to do, when you bring your emotion into the conversation, you begin to lose one of the key tenets of successfully dealing with an irate customer – pull emotion out of these conversations.

Therefore, when defending others, do it without emotion, without the tone and body language and words that can raise the temperature of a conversation.

Now you may want to ask why we should “defend” in the first place. Won’t that start an argument? Won’t that make them more irate?

Well it could if done incorrectly, and there’s a fine line we’re walking. The reason to occasionally defend is this: If you allow incorrect conclusions to be solidified in the customer’s mind, then that will affect that customer’s loyalty, that customer’s word-of-mouth, and that customer’s attitude in future interactions with your business.

And while I’m not suggesting you correct every customer misstatement (since that surely will backfire), if they say that Chris – your co-worker – did something that he’d never do (yelled at the customer or advised the customer to do something that’s obviously against policy), you want to support your co-worker. Consider these phrases:

  • I wasn’t in that conversation, so I can’t speak specifically to what was Chris said, but I’m sorry you had to deal with it, and I want to help you find a resolution.
  • I’ve known Chris for years, and I’ll definitely talk with him since that’s not the experiences his customers typically have, and I’m very sorry about what happened in your case. Let’s discuss how we can best resolve this moving forward.
  • That’s not how we typically do things around here, so I’m very sorry about the situation. I’ll definitely share your concerns internally after our call, and right now I want to make sure we can get this situation addressed immediately.

The commonality in these statements is that we don’t agree with the customer that our co-worker was at fault, we stay composed, we let them know that the situation isn’t typical, and we transition the conversation to a resolution.

When dealing with the irate customer, learn to defend without being defensive.


Let Them Share – 1/14/14 TOW

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


Have you ever seen the TV show “Monk?” It’s about a former police detective now turned police consultant. He has a “unique” personality due to too many different life experiences to go into at this point, but let’s just say he’s not the most touchy/feely person in the world.

Every episode includes his sessions with his psychiatrist where he shares his feelings in his own “Monk way.” Sharing feelings is not natural for Monk, and he has a hard time caring about or being curious about others’ feelings as well. At least in this respect, many of us are similar to Monk.

However in customer service – especially in many of the most difficult conversations we have – emotions are involved. And if you’re like Monk, or if you have trouble sharing your own feelings with others in a personal setting (let alone a work setting), you might work hard NOT to have to have a discussion of feelings. But unfortunately for those of us not on the touchy/feely side, we have to allow those emotions to come from the customer.

When the customer is upset, angry, frustrated, or they’re envious or hurt or anxious, we cannot ignore those emotions. In order to get to a resolution in such a way as to engender trust and to have the customer feeling good about how the conversation went (even if they didn’t love the outcome), we have to let them share those emotions.

People can bring down the emotions if they are allowed to flow; they can settle down quicker if we allow them to relieve the pressure. They can think more clearly and logically and move on if they’ve been allowed to vent. Oftentimes, they don’t even want a resolution if we just give them the opportunity to share the emotions.

Now I’m NOT suggesting you ENCOURAGE them to share, but be observant of emotions. If they exist, allow them to flow, don’t interrupt, don’t argue – instead, listen and empathize, and then find the opportunity to start asking questions that move you toward solutions.

To get to the next step, to deal with someone on more sensible terms, be sensitive to their emotions.

Let them share.