Business Practices | 3 min read | Published February 02, 2022

What to Say to an Angry Customer

As unfortunate as it is, having poor experiences with businesses seems to be a universal truth for everyone in the 21st century. Even with the internet and all of the conveniences of the digital age, products still don't arrive, they break, or they don't operate the way they are supposed to. On a basic level, disappointment is inevitable. Issues are as sure as the tides, and if you're a provider of goods or services, you can bet on having a healthy dose of upset customers flocking to your ticketing system. 

When it comes to angry customers, it can be hard to not argue or pin the blame elsewhere – don't do that, put your customer first. Other times it can seem that the more care your customer service team puts in, the outcome doesn’t change at all – the customer is just as angry. In customer care cases, it’s essential to be rational yet empathetic, professional but compassionately personable. Sound a bit confusing and maybe even a smidge contradictory? If done correctly you can be all of these things, but it's especially easy if you have a 360-degree view of your customer. Just remember the overall purpose of providing customer support – uplifting your customers and ensuring loyalty and retention.

Sometimes your ticket management platform or bad software can prevent you from providing successful support to angry customers, but there are still a handful of ways you can communicate with them to alleviate their frustration. 

angry customer phone-1

Through all interactions, remember that the way you communicate always matters; we are still humans and nobody likes to feel like they are being left on their own. Here are the best things for your customer service team to say, and act on, for expertly dealing with angry customers.


Best Ways to Communicate with an Upset Customer

Tell angry customers “I hear you”

Don’t mistake saying “I hear you” with “I understand.” While semantically they may seem very similar, to a customer, these mean wholly different things. Saying “I hear you” (or something near identical) is telling a customer that you are listening and you are empathizing with their problem. The mistake with saying “I understand” is that you are telling the customer that their problem is not special, you already know the problem, and this leaves them feeling like you are not being empathetic to their concerns.  


Thank upset customers for communicating their problems

Thanking your customers for telling you their issues is another way of telling you that you hear them, but it goes deeper than that – it implies they are helping you. You are essentially saying that by bringing this to your attention, you are becoming a better business, and it’s all thanks to them, your customer. This not only helps alleviate their frustration, but it might totally shift the dynamic and improve their opinion of your company – better relationships means less churn and higher revenue


Don't be afraid to admit mistakes

The image of perfection is no longer attainable for businesses. Humans fail, businesses fail. With the widespread usage of social media, pretending that an issue is a non-issue is not only ill-advised, but prone to backfire. Admitting mistakes is honest, and honest companies attract loyalty and retention. No one is proud to work with a dishonest business. 

When a customer support professional is callous or attempts to redirect fault, it can leave customers feeling slighted or that they’ve been lied to, regardless of whether that’s accurate. 


Communicate and validate, don't argue

Telling customers that they are correct in being upset is a great validator. Without articulating this, there is an unspoken (or very spoken) battle of whether the customer is in the right. Great customer support isn’t about convincing a customer that they’re wrong or overblowing things. Great customer support means being customer-first in your communications and so maximizing loyalty and retention. Even if you believe that your customer is overblowing something, is it more important to be right and lose a customer or validate their feelings and improve the relationship? 

It’s easy to say to leave your personal feelings out of it, but ultimately your customer support professionals must remain courteous. An argument with a customer does nothing good for either of you. 


Side with your customers, not against them

It’s simple to say but it demonstrates that you understand how the customer is impacted and that you empathize with them. Similar in vein to saying that you hear them, it’s more than just an addendum. Both of these phrases are excellent validators and demonstrate that you care about your customers’ well-being and happiness. Essentially, it shows that you are a human – both statements are ingrained with humanity.


Tell customers that you will work to solve the problem

This statement shows that you’re getting down in the trenches and investing the time and effort to solve their problem directly. By saying this, your customer service representative is telling your customers that they care enough to help and to help now. Excellent customer support doesn’t boil down to just speed, but to being customer-first. It means getting things done correctly with care and positive intention.


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