Why Listening To Angry Customers Will Fuel Your Growth

Why Listening To Angry Customers Will Fuel Your Growth _ MediaOne Marketing Singapore

The guy that yells and curses at your customer support agent? Yeah, him. Believe it or not, he can be a valuable asset (growth) to your business.

The fact that someone is so mad at you means they care enough to take action and express their frustration — this engagement can supercharge your growth if dealt with properly.

Humans are bags of emotions, and nothing you do can control how they feel. You can’t make every customer happy or satisfied, but you can lend them an ear and try to understand their point of view.

Because if you don’t, 86% of customers will simply switch to another brand.

So instead of getting mad at angry customers, listen carefully and act accordingly — it could be a huge opportunity for growth. Who knows, the irate customers might even become your biggest brand advocates.

12 Tips to Handle Difficult Customers

As the owner or customer service lead, it’s your job to train your personnel to handle demanding customers. Remember, no two angry customers are the same. They each have different goals, requirements, and expectations.

You must ensure the customer service team is well-prepared for any situation. Here are 12 tips you can adopt right away:

#1. Learn to Follow Up with Customers

Why Listening To Angry Customers Will Fuel Your Growth | MediaOne Marketing Singapore

Don’t wait for customers to come back to you with their complaints; take it upon yourself to follow up. Check to see if the customer is happy with your product or service and if there are ways to improve it. 

Your customer service team should be proactive when gathering feedback and resolving issues quickly.

It will work wonders for your customer relationships and help build an engaged audience. You’ll also be able to make better decisions when you have a complete picture of how customers feel about your brand.

So it pays to go the extra mile and show that their opinion matters. It will foster loyalty and trust in the long run. 

So, how do you follow up with customers? 

You can contact them directly via surveys, emails, or polls. Or you could create a feedback form on your website and ask customers to complete it after they buy from you.

No matter how you do it, regularly check in with your customers and engage with their feedback.

#2. Keep Your Commitments

Promises are like glue. Once you make one, you stick to it.

Don’t make empty promises to your customers to appease or calm them down. This will only backfire and cause more frustration. 

When you commit, deliver on it! If the customer complains about something, don’t just say: “I’ll look into it and get back to you soon” – do it.

Since time is of the essence here, prioritize customer requests and ensure your team is always on the same page.

No customer likes it when they’re promised something and then forgotten about, so learn to keep communication lines open at all times.

At the end of the day, customers want to know that you care enough to take action and address their concerns. That’s how you build trust and loyalty. 

So, next time you make a promise to an angry customer, make sure you have every intention of keeping it. Otherwise, they might just take their business elsewhere.

#3. Be Patient and Empathetic

Be Patient and Empathetic | MediaOne Marketing Singapore

Sometimes customers can be unreasonable and hard to deal with. But no matter how angry they are, don’t let it get to you.

Your customer service team should be trained to remain calm and patient even when dealing with belligerent customers. 

Don’t take things personally or lose your temper. Instead, try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and understand their point of view. 

A simple trick is to count down from 10 before responding in any situation. This will help you take a few seconds, stay composed, and think of the best way to address the customer’s complaints. 

You also want to answer in the first person, like “I’m sorry for the inconvenience” or “Let me see what I can do to help you.” This shows that you’re taking ownership and are willing to work on finding a solution.

For example, if a customer rants about their experience with your product, don’t just dismiss them. Ask them for more details and listen actively. Then, once you understand the full range of the problem, look for ways to resolve it as quickly as possible. 

Your goal is to demonstrate that you care and are willing to go above and beyond to make things right. That’s how you win customers over and retain their business in the long run.

#4. Seek Customer Feedback

Feedback from angry customers can be an incredible opportunity to boost customer loyalty and increase sales. 

Use each complaint to learn about what went wrong and why it happened. Ask for more details and see if you can avoid similar issues. 

Encourage customers to give honest feedback about your product or service and if there are ways to improve it. Use this input to make necessary changes, improve customer experience, and get better results from your business.

That’s why it pays to listen to angry customers. Their complaints can be the impetus you need to make changes, improve customer service, and fuel your growth. 

So don’t be afraid of a few negative reviews or disgruntled customers — they’re there to help you improve what you do. Embrace them as an opportunity to learn, grow, and become a leader in your industry

It’s time to put angry customers at the heart of your business strategy – after all, happy customers are the backbone of any successful business.

#5. Take Action Quickly

Take Action Quickly | MediaOne Marketing Singapore

When customers are angry, they expect a speedy response and solution. 

Acknowledging their frustrations early on and offering immediate help is the key here. 

Don’t ignore customer complaints or brush them off – take action quickly before things get out of hand. 

The faster you can address a customer’s concern, the more likely they will stay loyal to your brand.

Next, investigate the issue and see how to resolve it. If needed, set up a call with your customer service team or provide a discount on the next purchase. 

No matter what you do, ensure the customer knows their voice is heard and their complaints are taken seriously.

#6. Get to the Root of the Problem

When dealing with angry customers, addressing their immediate needs is never enough. 

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You also have to get to the root of the problem and figure out what caused it in the first place.

You can use the RCA (Root Cause Analysis) to do this. It’s a systematic approach that breaks down the issue into manageable parts and helps you identify what triggered it. 

For example, if a customer is having trouble using your website, break down the issue into its component parts. 

Is it the design? 

Is it slow loading times? 

Or is there a bug in the code? 

Figure out what’s causing the problem and then take measures to fix it. 

Or if a customer is dissatisfied with your product, ask them why and what changes would make it better.

You don’t have to solve it there and there, but you should at least try to understand what’s the main issue and take steps to address it. 

Example:

Customer: I have been using your product for a few months and am really disappointed. It’s not working as expected, and I’m not getting the results I was hoping for.

Your Customer Service Manager: I’m terribly sorry to hear that. We take customer satisfaction seriously and would love the chance to make things right. Can you tell me more about what’s not working? We’d like to help you troubleshoot and figure out the root cause of the issue. Is there something we can do to make your experience better? 

#7. Never Take Anything Personally

Never take it personally or get defensive when customers express their anger. That will only worsen the situation or make it harder to reach a resolution.

Remember, the customer doesn’t know you or your intentions — they don’t know what you’re going through. They only care about their problem and getting it fixed as quickly as possible. 

When communicating with customers, always stay level-headed and calm. Be respectful of their feelings, take responsibility for any mistakes on your end, and express empathy for their situation. 

Apologize for the inconvenience, take ownership of the problem, and assure them you’ll do whatever it takes to make things right. 

Empathy, understanding, and respect are the best way to handle angry customers. You can start the conversation by saying something like this, “I understand how frustrating this must be for you. Let me help you with that.”

#8. Listen

Practice active listening when customers vent their frustrations. 

Active listening is a technique used to better understand another person’s feelings, opinions, and thoughts. 

It involves paying careful attention to what your customer is saying and reflecting on it in a non-judgmental way. 

It’s the opposite of passive listening, where you’re just picking up snippets of the conversation and not paying attention to the emotions behind the words. 

Active listening is especially important when dealing with angry customers, as it helps you get to the root of their frustration and find a solution that meets their needs.

Most people don’t listen to understand but reply — a big mistake when dealing with angry customers.

You want to soak in the information they’re giving you and only open your mouth when you have something meaningful to contribute.

A simple “I understand” or “I hear what you’re saying” goes a long way in helping customers feel like their voice is being heard. 

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You can also paraphrase the customer’s words, ask clarifying questions, and show empathy to ensure you fully understand their issue. 

Example:

  • Customer: I’m so frustrated with your product! It keeps crashing, and it’s driving me nuts.
  • Your customer service manager: I understand how you feel. It’s really annoying when a product fails to function as expected. Let me help you figure out the issue so we can resolve it quickly. Can you tell me more about what’s happening?

#9. Show Some Empathy

Empathy will help guide you to a resolution and make customers feel heard. 

When speaking with angry customers, put yourself in their shoes. 

Be patient and understanding, even if the customer is not being reasonable. 

Avoid getting defensive or responding angrily, as this will only worsen matters. 

Instead, try to remain calm, apologize for any inconvenience caused, and offer a solution that resolves their issue.

Example:

Customer: This service is useless.

Your customer service manager: I’m sorry to hear that. We apologize for the inconvenience and want to do whatever it takes to make things right. Can you tell me more about what happened so I can help?

#10. Refer to the Customer By Their Name

There’s power in mentioning a customer’s name during your conversation. 

Using the customer’s name will show them that you value and respect their business and that their issue isn’t just another number to you. 

This simple gesture can go a long way in calming angry customers down and resolving the situation more quickly.

Some Tips For Using the Customer’s Name: 

  • Use their name sparingly to avoid sounding insincere 
  • Avoid using nicknames or abbreviations of their name without permission 
  • Don’t overuse their name, as it can sound forced 
  • Use snippets to find and pull in the customer’s information. Using predefined tags makes adding the customer’s name easy without typing it out each time.

#11. Build and Maintain Customers’ Trust

Trust is the foundation upon which successful customer relationships are built. If you make a mistake, apologize and work on building the trust back up. 

Customers naturally expect to be treated with respect and fairness, so make sure you’re always honest and upfront with them.

Be transparent and honest when working on rectifying an issue and openly communicate with customers when there are delays or unexpected issues. 

You can also personalize the customer experience by sending follow-up emails after conversations, offering discounts or promotions, and thanking them for their loyalty.

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Here’s what you want to do:

  • When responding to a demanding customer, you want to pull out their background information. Make sure you understand them to the fullest extent.
  • You also want to walk them through the behind-the-scenes or explain why things are how they are. Give them a chance to empathize with you, and let them understand that you’re trying your best.

Here are a few tips to remember when dealing with angry customers: 

  • Take responsibility for the problem and stay respectful. Make simple statements like “this is our fault” or “we messed up.”
  • Using positive scripting language: Instead of saying, “I don’t know,” try saying, “I’ll find out,” or “Let me look into that for you.”
  • Reassure customers: Let them know that their feedback is valued and that you will do everything in your power to ensure they have a better experience.
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#12. Share The Knowledge With Your Team

Share the knowledge and experiences you gain from your interaction with angry customers with your team. 

In most cases, the root cause of customer dissatisfaction points to operational breakdowns, process failures, or product issues that need to be addressed.

If these problems can be identified quickly and corrected, it will help prevent future customer dissatisfaction and improve your team’s ability to handle similar situations.

Talk about common scenarios with your team members and develop solutions together. 

Organize training sessions or workshops where team members can learn from each other and practice handling angry customers. 

This will help create a sense of unity among your team, promote the exchange of ideas, and give everyone the confidence to handle difficult conversations.

Here are some tips for sharing knowledge with your team: 

  • Ask questions and listen to what others have to say 
  • Celebrate success stories from customer interactions 
  • Role-play scenarios that you’ve experienced in the past 
  • Use feedback to create actionable improvements within your team

The Three Types of Angry Customers Your Customer Support Agent May Encounter 

Not all belligerent customers are the same. Knowing each type and how to handle them best can help your customer support agents resolve problems more efficiently. 

Here are some talking points to give your customer support agents an idea of the different types of angry customers they’re likely to encounter:

Angry Customer #1: The “I Need Someone to Vent To” Customer

This type of customer will likely just want to get things off their chest. 

They’re regulars and will vent just about anything that enters their mind.

They’ll contact you weekly, monthly, or even daily and may not actually need a solution to their issue. 

They’re convinced something is wrong and just want to let off some steam.

They’re the type that nitpicks for even the most minor mistakes. 

They don’t listen and will interrupt frequently.

How Your Agents Should Handle This Type of Customer:

  • Let them vent. 
  • Empathize: Let them know you understand their frustration and that their issue is legitimate. 

Example: “I can understand why this is so frustrating, and I apologize for the inconvenience.”

  • Appreciate them for Being Patient: Let them know that you value them as a customer and thank them for their patience. 

Example: “I have been working hard to resolve this for you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience and loyalty. It means a lot to us.”

  • Reassure them that You’ll Follow Through: Let them know you’ll do what it takes to address their issue. 

Example: “I have taken notes and will do my best to ensure this doesn’t happen again. You have my word.”

Angry Customer #2: The “I Just Want to Cancel” Customer

This type of customer is usually just looking for a way out. 

They don’t want to continue their subscription and would rather just cancel their account. 

They’ll likely be short with your agents, and give them the cold shoulder. 

You don’t want to be quick to write them off, however. 

Instead, take the time to listen to their complaints and try to get to the root of their issue before offering a solution. 

You’d be surprised to find that these customers don’t even want to cancel their subscriptions — they’re just frustrated and want to test out the company’s dedication to making the customer happy.

In most cases, the customer will begin by listing down all the reasons they think they should discontinue their subscription. 

Your agents must stay professional and listen to the customer’s grievances without getting sidetracked.

How Your Agents Should Handle This Type of Customer: 

  • Ask What is Making Them Unhappy: Let them voice their issues before offering a solution.

Example: “I would love to hear what has frustrated you with our product.” 

  • Commit to Going the Extra Mile: Let them know you’re willing to do whatever it takes to make them happy. 

Example: “I understand how important this is for you, and I’m going to give my best effort in finding a solution.” 

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  • Offer Alternatives: Show the customer that you care about their opinions and provide alternate solutions to their problem. 

Example: “I understand how you feel, but can I suggest a different solution that might make things easier for you?”

Angry Customer #3: The “I Want to Speak to Your Senior” Customer

Yikes. These customers are usually fuming and aren’t afraid to give your agents a piece of their minds.  

They’re ready to go as high up in the chain of command as possible and have their voices heard. 

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The problem with this type of customer is that they don’t want to listen. They’re convinced there’s nothing the agents or the junior staff can do to help with their issues. 

More than half the time, they’ll be sucked up by escalations, refunds, or special offers. 

How Your Agents Should Handle This Type of Customer:

  • Stall the Transfer: Don’t be too quick to transfer them. Instead, try to see if the agent can solve their issue first. 

Example: “I would be more than happy to connect you with a senior manager, but she’s wrapping up another call. So, let’s keep things moving, and immediately she hangs up, I’ll connect you with her.” 

  • Offer a Win-Win Solution: This customer wants something to satisfy them. If possible, try to devise solutions that can benefit both parties. 

Example: “I understand your frustration and would like to offer a win-win solution. How about we reduce the cost of your subscription by 50% without cutting any features?”

Gather Information and Check-In: Before transferring the customer to a supervisor, the agents need to gather as much information from them as possible. 

Example: “I would love to take some notes about this issue from you before I connect you with a senior manager. I’ll document it, so you don’t have to repeat it when you get connected.”

Attempt to Resolve the Issue, but Still, Connect Them: See if the agent can resolve the problem. But even after they do, you still need to connect the customer with a supervisor — just for extra reassurance. 

Example: “I think I understand the issue. I have a few solutions that I would like to try. I’ll continue working with you if that’s okay. And when the manager finishes the call, I’ll still connect you with her for a second opinion.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.

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