Part of doing business means dealing with customers. Your customers pay your bills, refer new customers, and provide you with valuable feedback. So, when a customer is disgruntled, it’s important to quickly find out what the problem is and work on a solution. Seth Godin recently listed some tips on dealing with angry customers, and here are some additional tactics that we use to turn a frown upside-down.

Admit the Mistake

According to Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, personally owning up to a mistake can help to calm someone down. The simple act of saying “I’m the one who did it, and for that I apologize” can work wonders. In one issue of Treehouse, I ran the wrong advertisement and the advertiser was rightfully pissed off. By immediately admitting that a mistake was made, I personally was at fault, and I’d be willing to do whatever it takes to make it right, the advertiser’s anger disappeared and we set thing straight.

Communicate Quickly

This might be more of an issue in the web world since if you’re a small business manager and an angry customer approaches you in a physical store, you can’t really walk away. We’ve found that quickly responding to customers that have complaints or feedback helps to gain trust and loyalty. We all have Gmail Notifier installed to help deal with bug reports and support requests promptly. If someone is upset, the last thing you want is their anger to fester.

Work Your Butt Off

Wufoo, like all software, sometimes has nasty bugs that make customers upset. Most customers realize that you’re human and that problems do happen. After acknowledging that there is a problem, fix it in a timely manner. Some of our most loyal customers today were once disgruntled, but changed their attitudes when they saw we’re willing to work nights and weekends to give them the product they deserve.

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Chris Campbell

Making Angry Customers Happy Customers by Chris Campbell

This entry was posted 4 years ago and was filed under Notebooks.
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  1. David Stone · 4 years ago

    Wise words!

    I believe (from experience) that when a customer is upset because of a problem, or what is perceived to be a problem the only thing that matters is how you handle the situation.

    They’ll judge the way you handled the situation. If they are satisfied with your response they’ll stay, if not, your giving your competitors business.

  2. Tobie Langel · 4 years ago

    I read a study a while ago (unfortunately I cannot remember where) which stated that hotel customers who had encountered a problem during their stay which was quickly and efficiently solved actually rated the hotel better than customers who had had a flawless stay. That’s definitely something to keep in mind…!

  3. Tobie Langel · 4 years ago

    Actually, I read about this study in 37 Signals’ Defensive Design for the Web.

  4. Chris Campbell · 4 years ago

    That’s an interesting point Tobie, and one I’d probably agree with. I think we have yet to lose a customer who was angry at one point and spoke with us to clear up the problem.

  5. Ben Hirsch · 4 years ago

    I have an ‘emergency’ email address that receives bug reports and I give this address to clients who might have an urgent/emergency need. It sends a text message to my cell phone with the contents of the message so I know exactly what is going on. This helps to avoid the festering angryness.