All field agents have dealt with an angry customer at least once.

This is one of those situations you need to handle delicately.

The goal is to find out what the problem is and calm the customer at the same time. Then, you can figure out a way to solve the problem.

Knowing how to manage angry customers effectively is crucial for boosting customer satisfaction. It can also help you preserve your company’s reputation.

In this blog post, we’re going to look at nine strategies to deal with angry customers.

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Why field agents need to level up their customer service skills

Your field agents are your technicians on the frontline. They meet your customers face-to-face on a daily basis and act as the face of your company.

This involves communicating with different types of people every day. As you can expect, some of these people might not be in the best mood.

Field agents need to have adequate communication skills to deal with awkward situations.

This allows them to handle angry customers tactfully. It also helps to reduce the number of complaints you receive from customers.

How to manage angry customers in your field services business

Make sure your field agents are capable of dealing with angry customers.

The best way to do this is to hire field agents who have excellent communication skills. It’s also smart to train your current staff in communication and conflict resolution.

Here’s how to get started.

Always go the extra mile

The best way to deal with angry customers is to avoid getting them angry in the first place.

Field agents should make sure a customer is completely satisfied before they leave. This is more than just finishing the job. It’s about paying attention to details.

Make sure your team doesn’t leave a mess behind, either.

If you want to truly go the extra mile for a customer, here are a few quick tips:

  • Know what the customer wants. To be able to go the extra mile for a customer, you need to know what they really want. Don’t assume — ask them.
  • Be fast. Everyone loves fast service. Be prompt when delivering service, following up, and addressing issues.
  • Answer all the customer’s questions. Spend the extra time to answer all the customer’s questions. Make sure they have all the answers they need.
  • Look the part. Even if the job is dirty, your field team should show up neat and clean. Your appearance tells customers whether you’re professional or sloppy.
  • Give more value than what you charge for. Before you start a job, you and the client agree on the services you’ll provide. Give a little extra. For example, imagine your cleaning service is hired to clean an office. If your team sets up the coffee pot with fresh grounds for the next day, that’s a little extra effort that makes a big difference.

Of course, even with excellent service, you’ll still have an angry customer now and then. Here’s what to do when it happens.

Make the customer feel heard

Disagreements happen. People might be dissatisfied with your company for a lot of reasons. Sometimes, it’s completely out of your control.

But you can’t fix it until you know exactly what’s going on.

Listen to the customer and understand why they’re upset. At this stage, you or your employee shouldn’t try to solve the problem yet.

Let the customer express their frustration. Instead of explaining — or worse, arguing — ask questions to get to the root of the issue.

Be careful about tone of voice and the way you phrase questions. An upset client is especially sensitive to anything that sounds like you’re arguing.

If you start to feel defensive or frustrated, take a deep breath and refocus. Remember that the customer is angry about the situation, not about you.

Active listening is an important communication skill. It’s especially useful when emotions run high because it forces you to focus entirely on listening instead of reacting.

Here’s how to be a better active listener:

  • Make eye contact and be mindful of body language. Pay attention to what is being said and how it’s being said. You can’t focus on someone’s words and body language if you’re thinking about what you’re going to say next, so stay in the moment with good eye contact.
  • Don’t interrupt. Even if they interrupt you, let them speak until they’re done. Stay focused on what they’re saying and let go of whatever you want to say.
  • Rephrase what was said. This proves that you’re listening and clarifies any points that weren’t clear. Avoid misunderstandings and defuse tempers by saying things like “I’m hearing that you’re angry because the construction crew left trash in your driveway and you’re concerned about damage to your car. Is that right?”
  • Be patient. If you’re doing this right, the customer will do most of the talking. It might feel like you’re talking in circles, but if the angry client is repeating something, that probably means they don’t feel like you’re hearing and understanding it. Ask more questions to get to the root of the issue and listen patiently while they explain.

Stay calm

It’s easy to let your emotions take over when you’re dealing with an angry customer.

We don’t need to tell you why that’s a bad idea.

Stay calm and handle the situation rationally.

This will often involve staying polite in the face of insults and harsh words. No matter how the customer reacts, a field agent needs to stay professional at all times.

Use the following tips to help you stay calm:

  • Don’t raise your voice. Raising your voice when talking to a customer is a big no-no. Doing so can only escalate the conflict, so make sure to avoid it.
  • Take deep breaths. It’s important to breathe properly when dealing with an angry customer. Taking deep breaths can help you stay calm.
  • Talk slowly. Talking slowly will help you calm down and allow you to get your message across clearly.

Don’t take it personally

Angry customers will often blame the field agent for their problem. Not taking this personally can be a challenge for a lot of field agents.

Understand that the customer isn’t actually angry with you. They’re angry with the situation itself.

Taking things personally can lead to you acting emotionally instead of rationally. You might say or do the wrong things.

If this is something you struggle with, a good way to stop taking things personally is to keep an awareness log.

In this log, you’ll note every situation where you took things personally but shouldn’t have. You should also write down how you felt in those situations.

Finally, try to think about what you can do to avoid taking things personally next time.

Apologize

No matter how careful you are, you’ll sometimes make a mistake. In these situations, it’s important that you apologize to the customer first.

Here’s how to apologize effectively:

  • Restate how the issue occurred. Explain the problem in your own words. Provide a clear explanation of why it happened. Be careful not to make excuses here — just admit the problem.
  • Acknowledge the customer’s goals. Let them know that you understand what they want to accomplish. Tell them you’re sorry the issue caused a delay in achieving their goals.
  • Take responsibility. This isn’t about who’s at fault. Trying to shift blame will only anger the customer further. Even if the problem isn’t your fault, it’s your responsibility to fix it, so accept that responsibility now.

Show empathy

You should show empathy and let the customer know you understand their situation.

Note that it’s not always easy to show empathy in these types of situations. It can often come off as insincere.

To prevent this, you can use statements such as:

  • “If I’m understanding correctly,…”
  • “You’re right.”
  • “I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with this.”
  • “I appreciate your patience.”
  • “I understand how that could be frustrating.”

Showing empathy means acknowledging and understanding the way a customer feels about the situation. It doesn’t matter how you feel. You can still be empathetic.

Pay attention to your body language

Body language is a crucial part of human communication. It’s also very important when dealing with angry customers.

When talking to a customer:

  • Maintain eye contact. Doing this lets the customer know you’re paying attention to their story.
  • Practice good posture. Posture is associated with confidence. Practicing good posture will ensure you appear confident when talking to the customer.
  • Smile. Look for opportunities to smile when talking to a customer. This will show that you’re happy to help them and that you’re optimistic about their issue.
  • Avoid crossing your arms. Having your arms crossed can come off as intimidating or angry. Try to keep your body language relaxed.

Fix the issue

This should be obvious, right?

Fix the customer’s issue as soon as possible. Addressing the issue quickly will help to turn a negative experience into a positive one.

Let the customer know everything you’ll be doing, as well as how long it’s going to take.

This is another opportunity to go above and beyond. In fact, customer complaints are one of your best opportunities to earn repeat business and referrals.

Yes, you read that right. An angry customer is one of the best chances you have to earn more business. You have the chance to prove how great you are at customer service, which leaves your client with a strong positive impression.

Remember at the beginning of this article when we talked about going the extra mile? It’s super important here, too.

When you address the problem, find ways to turn this into a good experience.

  • Refund some or all of the fee for the job
  • Offer free or discounted service
  • Upgrade the client’s next service without charging for it
  • Redo the entire job rather than just addressing the part that was missed
  • Ask the customer what they would like you to do to make up for the issue

Follow up

Finally, it’s crucial to follow up with the customer once you’ve resolved their issue.

Call or email them to see if they’re satisfied with the resolution and ask if there’s anything else you could do for them.

You can also send them a small gift or offer them a discount on their next purchase.

A thank-you card is a nice touch, too. Keep in mind that most dissatisfied customers just cancel their service rather than talking about their issues, so be grateful that you had a chance to resolve the problem and keep a customer.

Start managing angry customers effectively

Dealing with difficult or angry customers is never easy. It’s especially challenging for field agents. Why? Because they have other responsibilities they need to take care of as well.

However, it’s certainly possible to learn how to manage angry customers effectively.

How have you dealt with angry customers in the past? Do you have any tips you could share?

Let us know in the comments.