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5 Steps for Responding to an Angry Customer

Working in customer service is a stressful job. Payroll, purchases, inventory, market share, etc. take the lion's share of our daily tasks. But, there's one thing I left out: the customers.

Angry Customer

No matter what we deal with on any given day, we must also deal with the occasional upset customer (whether we like it or not). Here's a great tactic to use in these circumstances:



Hear your customer out. Don't interrupt or try to justify your actions. Be patient and allow your customer to fully tell their side of the story so you can find out what happened.


When you empathize you "understand and share the feelings of another." In other words, put yourself in your customer's shoes. Use phrases like:

"I understand how upsetting that could be."

"I'd feel the same as you if that happened to me."


Next comes a sincere apology. Don't make excuses or try to justify why something did or didn't happen. Your customer is unhappy - just apologize.


Now it's your chance to fix the problem. Let your customer know that YOU will be the one to fix the issue. If for any reason you are not in a position to fix the issue, clearly explain that you will get assistance from _____________________ (the boss, manager, supervisor, etc.). Be specific about how and when they can expect a solution, and make sure the customer understands and agrees upon the path forward.


Thank your customer for bringing the matter to your attention. Show your appreciation for their business and for allowing you to fix the issue to their satisfaction.

You must finish off with a smile and warm farewell and let them know you look forward to their future business.

One last thing I like to say in times like these is "when you return next time, please ask for me and I will personally make sure you are well taken care of." And you must mean it.

Having an upset customer is difficult for everyone. No one likes to feel like they've failed, and the last thing we want is for our customers to have a bad memory of our business. Quick and sincere actions are the best way to turn a negative situation around.

And, by responding and reacting well, you may find it's easy to turn an upset customer into a future positive advocate for your business.

But remember, to do this you need to have H.E.A.R.T.