Influence people

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How to Calm an Angry Customer

Recently, I had my DNA analyzed and learned I'm related to Benjamin Franklin.

So I'll quote him.

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.”

How can you make amends after disappointing a customer?

Sue Hershkowitz-Coore, author of Power Sales Writing, offers these five tips:

Plan to keep the customer's business. Before you write a word, determine your strategy for delighting the angry customer. Find an alternative solution to her problem.

Begin with a thank-you. Offering a thank-you makes the customer feel "safe and smart," according to Herskowitz-Coore. Writing, "Thank you for giving me a chance to explain the situation," helps disarm further criticism.

Validate the customer's viewpoint. Acknowledge that, from her shoes, the customer's right. "The words 'Your'e right' are magical when they're genuine."

Belay the apologies. Don't dive into the "We're so sorry" waters. An apology is robotic and doesn't soothe; a solution is sincere, and should.

Stay positive. "Explain what is possible, not what is impossible," advises Herskowitz-Coore. Find positive ways to express negatives. Tell your angry customer what you can do, not what you cannot doand explain what's in it for them.


  1. I recently interviewed a client for a case study. One comment really impressed me: she said the company never criticized her for last minute needs with snide remarks such as "you know we need two weeks for that." Instead, they provided various solutions, the related costs, and a recommendation. So the client always felt valued an, more important, understood that sometimes circumstances were beyond her control. That company does it right and is always positive. Customers appreciate that.

  2. A pertinent observation, Margit. Customers do appreciate learning what you can do, rather than what you cannot do, even if your proposed solution doesn't match their needs 100%.


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