How to Handle Angry Customers

Three ways companies can take a proactive stance to eliminate unhappy customers.

Having been in the customer service industry for 25+ years I have heard, seen, attended and listened to various programs regarding “how to handle an angry customer”. Most often, these seminars are very informative and provide excellent guidance on dealing with a not so happy customer.

But my question has always been: Why is the customer unhappy and is there anything that can be done to diminish the number of unhappy customers? My instincts suggest that companies should take a proactive stance to eliminate unhappy customers.

Here are three ways to do so:


  1. Why are customers unhappy?

    First, ask yourself. Is there a pattern to the reasons that customers are unhappy? Is anyone in your organization tracking these issues? It’s been my experience that if you have one customer complaining about an issue or situation, more than likely there are others complaining about the same things.

    For example, during one call center evaluation, it was common for customers on certain billing cycles to experience problems with their bills (i.e. improper amounts, additional charges, etc.). This type of issue can certainly create angry customers. While it is important for agents to be equipped with “how to handle angry customers” skills, they should also determine what caused the customer’s frustration.

    Train customer service agents to identify external and internal issues that have contributed to a customers’ unhappiness with your company. Doing so will surely diminish or even eliminate the need for the customers to call. Most importantly, ensure all customer facing personnel are equipped with the proper customer interaction soft skills (i.e. voice tone, empathy, body language, etc.) so they do not inadvertently create an angry customer.

  2. Why are front-line personnel unhappy?

    It has been my experience that unhappy employees are an indication there of company issues that negatively impact customers. Customer facing employees become frustrated and angry when it seems no one is interested in addressing issues that contribute to the creation of angry customers.

    Consult with employees regarding their experiences. Consider the following: Are processes, both, customer and employee friendly? Is the training received sufficient to allow for successful customer interactions? Can employees count on the “system” functioning properly to provide a great customer experience? Take the time to gather and act upon employee feedback. You may be surprised at the results.

  3. How many credits or refunds are you issuing?

    Another issue tied to angry customers is the number of products or services given away, account credits or refunds issued by your company. Consider: Is anyone assessing a reason for these actions? Does your help desk system enable logging to record reasons for refunds, account credits and other actions taken to appease angry customers?

    It is important to monitor these areas as they may be an indicator that customers are not happy with your products or services. Empower customer facing employees to assess and report reasons for taking these actions, then analyze and identify ways to prevent their continuance. Determine how much refunds, credits or provision of goods and services costs your organization.

    Spend time with customer facing personnel during their interactions with angry customers to get first-hand experience of the appeasement actions utilized. Your willingness to take these steps will surely lead to a decrease in the number of angry customers.

It is a great idea to equip customer facing personnel with “how to handle angry customers” skills. Doing so gives them the confidence to properly handle the situation. Take an additional step by proactively identifying and addressing issues which contribute to the number of angry customers your employees encounter. Both customers and employees will love you for it!


Speaker, author and consultant Errol Allen is the founder and CEO of Errol Allen Consulting, a Houston, Texas based company that provides customer service training, customer service strategy development, operations analysis and improvement and supervisor and management training. He utilizes his 25 years of hands-on experience in assisting his clients in creating customer focused organizations. Join Errol on his Blog Talk Radio show “Now That’s Customer Service!” for practical tips and information.


© YFS Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Copying prohibited. All material is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this material is prohibited. Sharing of this material under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International terms, listed here, is permitted.


In this article