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Turn a Complainer into a Loyal Customer

7 Steps to Turn a Complainer into a Loyal Customer

Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.
Benjamin Franklin

As much as we hate to admit it, we’ve all been there. Anyone who has ever worked in customer service to any capacity has had an angry customer bark them down at one point or another.

You know better than to fight back, because that could be very embarrassing for you and your company. But did you ever truly learn how to convert those angry complainers into happy, loyal customers?

If you stop to think about it, you’ve probably also been on the other end of the situation–waiting hours for customer support to finally get you off hold, or dealing with a product or service that just didn’t meet your expectations. Why wouldn’t you want to turn that around for someone else?

1.  Stay calm

The first and most important step is to remain calm. Remember that you don’t just represent yourself when you talk to an angry customer, but also your whole company. Staying cool under pressure will reflect positively on your company and coworkers, so it’s always best to take the high road.

If a customer starts hurling insults at you, take a moment to remind yourself that it’s not personal. Handle the situation with grace, and you may be surprised by how effective this can be in calming an angry customer down.

Ignore rude comments and focus on how you can rectify the situation–the sooner you assist them and solve their problem, the less time they have to stew in their own anger.

2.  Have a script ready

“Canned” responses have a bad reputation for being too generic and impersonal, but as we’ve discussed before, they can be vital to streamlining productivity. No angry customer wants to be waiting on the other end as your team member tries to think up the right thing to say.

Ask your online chat support team to report on which phrases they have found most effective when dealing with unhappy customers. This will prove invaluable to future hires and less experienced team members, who will need these field-tested scripts to guide their conversations.

If your team does not already have a script, you can use Comm100’s 101 Ready-to-Use Live Chat Scripts for Both Sales and Customer Service to help you get started.

3.  Personalize your response

Even if canned responses are helpful for you or your team, no angry customer wants to feel like they are receiving a generic response. Use scripts as guidelines for how you should approach a subject, but don’t forget to include personal touches, like using the customer’s name.

There is scientific evidence that shows that hearing your own name activates a unique part of the brain, so there may be reason to assume that seeing one’s own name in a chat produces a similar effect.

If there’s one thing to remember, it’s that a script is not an excuse for lazy customer service.

4.  Empathize with your customer

Krista Tippett, the host of the popular podcast, On Being, puts it best: “You can disagree with another person’s opinion. You can disagree with their doctrines. You can’t disagree with their experience.”

The angry customer isn’t just overreacting to an inconvenience. They are dealing with a number of things in their life which exacerbate the issue at hand, so try to understand what they may be going through emotionally. They may be late to an important meeting that could dictate the fate of their career. Or maybe they had a large fight with their spouse, and dealing with this issue is the last thing they want to be doing.

You’ve probably been in their shoes with a service or product that didn’t meet your expectations in certain ways. Always wait to let them completely explain themselves before responding–don’t ever cut an angry customer off! They are venting their frustrations and deserve to be heard.

The next step is to make the customer feel heard. Simply saying, “I understand” can make a huge difference–at the end of the day, we all just want to be understood.

5.  Don’t deflect responsibility

It will only anger customers further if you tell them you weren’t responsible for their problem, even though that may be the case.

The customer knows that you yourself are not responsible for all the issues they are having, but they do entrust you with the responsibility to fix it. So don’t try to pinpoint where the blame actually belongs. Though you shouldn’t take their anger personally, you should take this responsibility seriously.

It’s your chance to not only turn things around for your company, but also to make a difference in that person’s day.

6.  Keep the language positive and offer solutions

Once you’ve heard the customer through his or her complaint, be prepared to offer solutions with positive sentence structures. It may seem insignificant, but rewording your phrases gives them different meanings.

Instead of “I don’t know.”, say, “Let me find out for you.”

Don’t say, “I can’t help you.” Instead try, “Let me forward you to the appropriate specialist.”

A positive spin on your sentences can mean you’re an aid to their solution instead of just another hurdle to jump.

7.  Offer additional value

Once you have resolved their main issue, ask if there is any other way you can help. You may be surprised how often customers have additional pain points or questions that need to be addressed. When you can service them additionally, they will truly feel that your company cares and goes that extra mile for their satisfaction.

Now relax and give yourself a pat on the back. You survived the most difficult part of your job and represented your company well! Give yourself a few moments and take some deep breaths before getting back to work.

Dealing with angry customers can be incredibly challenging. Just remind yourself when things get tough, this is your opportunity to turn things around and make an unsatisfied individual a loyal customer–all as a result of your excellent support skills.

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Jeff Epstein

About Jeff Epstein

Jeff Epstein is a B2B marketer with 20+ years’ experience creating compelling messaging and content for sales enablement and demand generation. Having held roles with companies including IBM, General Motors, and Comm100, Jeff knows how to connect solutions to buyers.