Dealing with angry customers can be a frustrating experience, but rising to the bait and expressing your own anger in return can result in a bad reputation for your company, and even put your job at risk. Many customer service representatives prefer to pass angry customers along to a manager or another representative, often just compounding the customer’s frustration. Instead of passing the problem on to someone else, the next time you find yourself in a situation with an irate or indignant consumer, try using the following four tips to turn your negative situation into a positive one:

 

Stay Calm

 

It’s hard to stay cool in the face of anger and hostility, but try to remember that it’s not really about you, and returning anger with anger will only make a bad situation worse. There’s even a particularly unpleasant service-rep baiting trend going around, wherein customers will provoke unsuspecting reps into anger, and then begin recording. Such tapes inevitably go viral, and always cut out the customer’s unpleasantness prior to the rep’s tirade. When you’re faced with a particularly unpleasant customer, try imagining that there’s a recording device nearby. Will the title of your YouTube feature be “Sales Representative Loses it on Customer,” or “Can you Believe this Sales Rep Stayed Cool?”

 

Apologize

 

An apology can go a long way, especially in the big bad world of customer service. As much as you may want to say “listen, lady, I just work here,” apologizing as profusely as if you personally created every single one of your customer’s problems is a lot more likely to be productive.  Once you’re done apologizing, apologize again, and then try apologizing some more. A customer service study by the Nottingham School of Economics discovered that more than twice the number of unhappy customers are willing to forgive a company that issues an apology over a company that offers monetary compensation; so as painful as it may be, put your pride aside, and apologize. If you apologize sincerely enough, the customer may even give you a positive recommendation.

 

Provide a Solution

 

Apologies are great, but they can’t solve everything. If your customer has a fixable problem, it’s your job to fix it. No one appreciates being put off, passed along, or avoided, so face your customer head-on and determine a real solution to their problem. If you have a script that you’re supposed to stick to, but it’s only making the problem worse, then freestyle a little. Humans are better at solving human problems than robots are, so show your customer that you’re a real person, and you actually care about their problem (even if you don’t).

 

Follow Up

 

Once you’ve provided your customer with an apology and a solution to their problem, try adding an extra personal touch by following up with a phone call or email at a later date–just to check that everything is going okay. Even the most hostile of customers can’t object to that kind of red-carpet treatment, and will likely feel pleased and flattered that you remembered their problem and cared enough to check in.