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How to Talk to a Frustrated Customer

Category: Blog

A frustrated customer is frustrated for a reason, and it’s your job to help turn their negative experience in to a positive one.


As we move in to further economic uncertainty, we all feel the pinch. At times like these, customer service can make or break your brand; consumers want security and an open, honest relationship with the brands they choose to invest in.

Multiple survey results suggest that a customer will stay with a company despite encountering issues, but only if the company holds their hands up, owns up to any mistakes and resolves the issue the first time around.

So! With that being said, how can you keep your customer calm long enough for you to be able to deal with the problem effectively, whilst restoring your customer’s faith in the brand…



If your customer is acting aggressively, it doesn’t mean that they’re wrong!  After all, you know what they say: ‘the customer is always right’, and it’s true! It’s your job to listen and find the real root of the issue.

So, take a step back and really try to get to the bottom of the situation, rather than letting yourself become overwhelmed by their manner- only then will you be able to offer appropriate and effective help.


Know your customer

Contrary to the [seemingly] popular belief that all customers fit in to personality categories… we understand that no two customers are the same. Your job is to find out what the situation is, what has happened so far, why the customer is frustrated and, most importantly, what you can do to help.

Again, this can only be achieved by listening to your customers’ needs, acknowledging them and reaffirming that you’re here to help.


Count to ten

You never know what other people are going through, so try and have some patience.

Your customer may be frustrated because they’re having a tough time and this may just have been the tip of the iceberg for them! This is where empathy comes in handy- put yourself in the customer’s shoes and try to remain calm and understanding. After all, to that particular customer you’re representing the whole brand.


Choose your words

There’s a fine line between sounding empathetic and appearing as though you’re trying to shift blame. Phrases such as “I’m sorry to hear you’re having issues”, although meant with good intentions, can sometimes come across as a bit passive-aggressive, or insincere.


Be honest and sincere

Instead, just be honest with your customer- admit that, yes, there does appear to be an issue, that you’re sorry, and reassure them that you will do everything in your power to turn things around. Steer clear of scripted ’empathetic’ responses and just be human!

The more sincere and respectful you are, the more likely your customer is to remember that you’re only human, too.


Be knowledgeable

It’s always important to know your stuff, but it’s even more vital to have all the answers when faced with a particularly frustrated customer. If you appear hesitant you’ll only add to their frustration (and already dwindling confidence), but there’s a fine line between being cautious and being hesitant; you should always provide accurate information.

This boils down to effective training and your ability to absorb information – the brand, services and processes should be second nature to you. That way, you can rest assured that when a frustrated customer does get in touch, you’re well-prepared to answer their queries both accurately and efficiently.


Be timely

Speaking of which, if your interaction is too short your customer may feel as though you are being careless/dismissive, worrying that you must have done something wrong, or missed an important action. On the flip-side, if your interaction is too long, your customer may become even more agitated!

In most cases, a particularly angry or frustrated customer will have been left without service or assistance for some time already and it’s important to be mindful of this. Be sure to ask the customer whether they have been in touch previously and check all system notes- nobody likes having to explain their situation time and time again.


Use positive and supportive questioning

Don’t put words in a frustrated customer’s mouth. Instead of “What seems to be the issue today?” try “How can I help you today?”. Likewise, instead of “Do you have any other problems I can help you with?” try “Is there anything else I can help with at all?”.

You can steer the situation in a positive direction without going over the top. Words like “unfortunately” are sometimes…unfortunately… used all too freely.


Clarify the end outcome

Have you ever spoken to a company and after finishing your conversation realised you have absolutely no idea what just happened and whether they have helped you or not?! Make sure you keep your customer in the loop. Steer clear of jargon and outline any and all steps.

At the end of the conversation, make sure you review all actions taken, what the outcome of these actions will be and advise the customer of any next steps. We all appreciate being kept up-to-speed. Be sure to leave relevant notes on the customers’ account, along with reminders to check in with the customer to keep them up-to-date where appropriate.


If you need help managing your customer interactions, simply get in touch to find out how we can help!