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10 Ways of Dealing with Angry Customers in Field Service

April 13, 2017 - Customer Journeys - 6 minutes

Dealing with angry customers; there comes a time when every business will have to face them.

Of course, when working in a field service situation, where there are typically a lot of balls to juggle at any one time, it can be especially difficult to stay composed…


But inevitably, things do go wrong from time to time.

These errors might occur through negligence, unclear client instruction or unpredictable external events.

Whatever the reason for errors, they often lead to customer unhappiness. 

man on the phone, acting shocked

Before you deal with the whys and wherefores of what led to the issue, your first priority should be to placate and hopefully satisfy the angry customers that you are dealing with.

Customer anger is damaging to a business in both the long and short term.

In the short term, you risk losing a valuable client.

In the long term, you may notice damage to your reputation.

Customer service is a key factor for field service engineers and prospective new clients will be quick to pick up on any negative messages, particularly those that are shared on social media.

Below, we’ve taken a look at 10 ways of dealing with angry customers that will help to ensure their ongoing custom and goodwill:

  1. Prevent the customer complaint in the first place.
  2. Hire the right people.
  3. Stay calm.
  4. Listen to your customers.
  5. Be mindful of your customers’ needs and feelings.
  6. Empathise with your customer.
  7. Always tell your customer the truth.
  8. Remember to smile.
  9. Offer an apology.
  10. Take appropriate action.
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1. Prevent the customer complaint in the first place

By far the most effective way to preserve your good name is to stop issues arising in the first place.

While we recognise that this is not always possible, there are some key factors that will lead to a reduction in errors.

Whether a mistake has been made or not, in order to help everybody involved understand what has happened, you should ensure that systems are set up to track each step of your engineer’s work using photographs, paperwork, and customer signatures.

This type of paper trail will not only serve to inform if issues do occur, but it will also work towards preventing cutting corners and rushed work.

2. Hire the right people

Bringing the engineers with the right competencies to a task is a key management skill.

Customer complaint issues are far more likely to arise if staff are under-trained or under-experienced.

Monitoring staff capabilities and providing high-quality professional development are key factors in ensuring a successful field service.


Read also:

How to Turn Your Field Service Engineers into Customer Service Pros


3. Stay calm

However angry a customer might be and however aggressive their behaviour, the situation is not going to be helped if you also lose your temper or panic.

This is sometimes easier said than done and it pays to have a few anger management strategies up your sleeve.

4. Listen to your customers

Service rep icon

No matter how many answers you might feel you have to a situation, your angry customer is not going to be placated until they feel that you have listened to and understood their story.

Active listening techniques can help them to appreciate that you are listening to them.

Try to nod or make noises of agreement as they speak, allow them to finish their sentences and once a calmer point is reached try to paraphrase their issues as you understand them.

5. Be mindful of your customers’ needs and feelings

Anger typically doesn’t come from just anywhere and even if a customer’s reaction seems excessive, there will likely be genuine reasons that they feel strongly about.

Try to appreciate the whole context of what has happened.

It may be that an urgent deadline will now be missed or that money will be lost through having to let a client down. Show that you sympathise but be aware of appearing disingenuous.


Related article: 

Here’s How to Handle Bad Reviews—And Turn Haters Into Customers!


6. Empathise with your customer

Empathy is easier if you take the time to understand the whole story.

Try to imagine yourself in your customer’s position, think about how you would react and what steps you would expect to see taken to put the situation right.

Make it clear through actions, not just words that you understand what they are going through.

7. Always tell your customer the truth

Lies and untruthfulness will always find us out eventually.

If telling the truth about a situation is going to contravene company policy or put someone else in a difficult position, be patient.

If you don’t yet know what the truth is behind what has happened you can explain that you need to gather more information before you pass a comment. This has the added benefit of buying you time and allowing you to do your due diligence.

After all, it can be tempting to react immediately, but patience is a virtue!

8. Remember to smile

If your customer is angry they likely won’t be smiling at you.

This doesn’t mean though that a smile from you won’t go a long way to calming a situation down.

We pick up on non-verbal clues more than we think and a smile when your customer is maybe expecting a retaliatory reaction may well disarm a tricky situation.

9. Offer an apology

Even if you don’t think your engineers or operatives are at fault on this occasion, an apology will go a long way to pouring oil on troubled waters.

Engineer

If at all possible, make a general apology about the situation without implicating anyone in particular or appearing to disagree with your customer.

10. Take appropriate action

You will be amazed how quickly client confidence returns if you demonstrate that you are prepared to take action to resolve a situation.

Losing a customer and your reputation is not worth the cost of an appropriate refund or discount.


Read also: 

Here’s Exactly What to Say When Breaking Bad News to Customers


The Takeaway and a helping hand

If you follow these tips next time you find yourself in a confrontational situation and dealing with angry customers you will almost certainly experience a more pleasant outcome.

While this won’t 100% fix all of your problems, it’s a great starting point. The more accustomed you get to dealing with these situations, too, the better you’ll be at preventing them as well!

Below, you can check out more about how using job management software can help you to deal with customers, every time:

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I'm eager to share great stories, advice, and tips that can help inspire and motivate field service businesses to find success. It's that, or I'm hunting down the best bagel recipe I can get my hands on!