Pour the “cup of frustration”: How to handle irate customers

Let’s face it: every business owner, including those managing a brokerage, is bound to come across a few unreasonable or irate customers. And while letting such customers go seems like the easiest approach, it may not be the best. So how should business owners then roll with the punches?

Speaking to MPA, Saguity CEO Darrell Hardidge said the first thing they should do is to let the irate customer explain what he or she is unhappy about. “You have to let them empty their cup of frustration. If you don’t let them unload their issues, it's going to be in the way of anything you want to say,” Hardidge said.

Business owners will then know which client to take after trying to settle the matter peacefully. “A reasonable person will accept that you have done your best to help, while an unreasonable person is one you can choose not to deal with again,” he added.

When confronted with a negative feedback, Hardidge suggests that business owners should first appreciate that the customer had taken the time to be honest, because “most people say nothing and vote with their wallet.”

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions,” he said. “Do what you can to rectify the situation. Most people are grateful when they see a genuine effort to serve them and take responsibility for the issue.”

Be set apart
Difficult it may be, but there are moments when business owners must turn away a customer because of conflicting expectations. According to Hardidge, when in that situation, business owners should show appreciation to the customer for choosing them first, then they must explain their decision.

“It would also help if you can suggest a decent alternative that can serve and support the customer’s needs. The fact that you have taken the time to be of service will set you apart. Most businesses just say no without trying,” he said.

Better and different
Just as they will encounter irate customers, business owners will find royal ones who will become their ambassadors. It’s just a matter of knowing how to deliver an experience greater than their competitors, Hardidge said.

“It comes down to the distinction of different isn’t always better but better is always different; be better than your competitors and, most importantly, be number one on communication,” he added. “In simple terms obsess over your customers and not over your competitors.”

“Go above and beyond and ensure your customers really receive a great experience that is a heart connection.”

According to Hardidge, business owners should measure their team’s performance on customer service and “know what 10/10 excellence looks like.” And wherever possible, they should employ technology to enhance efficiency.

“Customers love it when you make it easier for them to deal with you. Keep finding ways to add value to your market and never stop optimising your customer experience process,” he said.

Darrell Hardidge is a customer experience strategy expert and CEO of customer research company Saguity, specialising in driving revenue growth from customer appreciation. Darrell is the author of The Client Revolution and The 10 Commandments of Client Appreciation. To ­find out more, visit www.saguity.com