Maybe it’s your company’s fault. Maybe it’s not your company’s fault. The only thing of importance here however is that one of your customers is now frustrated and furious and if this is not handled properly you will lose this customer and the reputation of your company hangs on the line...

Customer experience is not an easy job, but it’s a very important one. According to the latest research by the Temkin group, companies that make around $1 billion annually can expect to earn on average an additional $700 million within 3 years of investing in improving customer experience, with this figure reaching $1 billion for SaaS companies. This is because 90% or more of consumers use customer experience to determine whether to work with a company and also because consumers will spend 17% more on companies that offer stellar customer service.

A Walker study found that by year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

Moreover, in the “switching economy” that we live in where customers are more likely than ever to switch providers due to the countless alternative options available to the customer and the ease of switching, businesses have to fight harder than ever to ensure that their customers remain loyal to their brand. According to an Accenture study, 6 out of 10 consumers have said that they are more likely to switch from one provider to the other compared to 10 years ago and 64% of consumers say they have switched providers in at least one industry due to poor customer service.

Yet, most companies in the MENA region place very little emphasis on having a strong customer experience team. As one of the customer experience agents at Tap Payments, I can definitely stand by these statistics. Customer experience is of the biggest priorities in Tap Payments and as furious as customers can get, once their issue is resolved in an easier manner, they become some of our most loyal customers! It truly is an accomplishment to turn these clients around.

Don’t get me wrong, we are in no way, shape, or form a perfect team, however at Tap, there is a constant emphasis on learning from our mistakes and continuously working to ensure that we provide our customers with the best support and experience that they deserve.

That being said, these are some inside tips and tricks that we use to ensure that our customers feel valued and taken care of at all times, especially at their most frustrated.

1. Play It Cool

When faced with an angry customer, make sure that you don’t take it personally and lose your cool. The customer is just displaying their dissatisfaction of a service provided to them and we may not know what they have been through due to that problem. Anger is a very natural emotion, and you need to take it as just that.

Avoid the natural tendency to justify your position, because to the customer it’ll just sound like you’re putting the blame on them. Instead, you need to remain calm, actively listen to them and confirm that you understand their frustrations. Then, apologize as necessary and reassure them that their issue is being taken care of with the utmost priority. In some cases, an angry customer may not listen to reason. In such cases, ensure them that you’ll get back to them with a solution and give them time to calm down.

‘We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience; I will send you other packages that could be more affordable for you. We understand that the prices are a little on the higher end, but I can assure you we will deliver the best service.’

If a customer is dissatisfied, they will tell 9-15 people about their bad experience and moreover, it takes around 12 good experience to make up for a bad experience. So ensure that they never face a bad experience to begin with.

2. Understand Your Customer

Each customer is different, has different priorities and needs to be handled differently. Some customers are extremely busy and is just looking for a quick fix. These customers don’t care about pleasantries, neither do they want to be comforted, they just want their issue resolved as quickly as possible.

These types of customers usually start off with their issues, rather than with pleasantries. In such cases, your priority is to understand their problems as quickly and thoroughly as possible, validate the customer’s feelings and resolve it. If they are furious about something, ignore their anger and focus on their problem

I can’t stress how important it is to ensure that you have understood their issues. There is nothing more frustrating to someone looking for a quick solution than to find out that you’re solving an entirely different problem altogether. It’s very important to stay calm and to listen attentively to the customers. If you are still not clear what the issue is, ask questions to confirm your understanding. It’s better to solve the correct issue slowly than to waste time on a completely different issue.

“Just to confirm, you are asking about enabling recurring payments for your customers?”
“To ensure that we are on the same page, you are asking me to deactivate American Express for your account?”

This way you are not frustrating the customers any further by forcing them to continually repeat their problems. You are repeating it for them instead, and it clarifies the issue you’re trying to resolve for both the customer and yourself.

On the other hand, you also face customers who prefers a bit of chit-chat first. They need to feel taken care of and connected on an emotional level, before their issues are resolved. Take the time to understand these customers as people before you address their problems.

Essentially, gauge the customer on their tone, knowledge and personality to figure out how to connect with them. Some customers have high technical knowledge and are looking for high-level explanations, some need extra reassurance that everything will work out fine, some may need to be educated on the process to understand why it’s taking time, everyone is different. Make sure you understand the customer before you solve their problems, trust us they’ll appreciate it.

3. The ‘Because’ Justification

In a study conducted in the 1970s by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer, she tested the willingness of people to allow someone to cut in line at the photocopying machine. The study concluded that people were more willing to let someone cut in line when their sentence had a ‘because’ in it.

“Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine because I am in a rush”

What was interesting however was that no matter how little the reasoning made sense, the word ‘because’ let people be more receptive towards the line cutting.

Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine because I need to make copies”

What does this mean for customer experience?

When you share bad news with a customer, offer an explanation to mitigate the anger.

Be careful to not use it when someone’s already angry though because at that stage they don't want to hear justifications, they just want a fix. Your customers are definitely smarter than the dullards waiting in line for the copy machine though so ensure that you do use a logical "because".

This also highlights the importance of a well-informed customer experience agents. How are customer experience agents meant to mitigate a problem when they don’t completely understand why the problem occurred in the first place? An agent with a deep understanding of the different products would be in a better position to offer a logical explanation as to why the issue occurred in the first place.

4. It's All in the Name

One of the most important things I’ve learned is that there is power in calling a customer by name. This makes your customer feel like their presence is recognized and that they are being given your full priority at that time.

Calling a customer by their name gets their attention because the sweetest sound to a person’s ear is their own name. It invokes an emotional reaction in them where they feel cared about.

“Yes Sara, I agree that this shouldn’t have happened in the first place”
“I hear you Sara, that is very important”
“Ofcourse Sara, I completely understand”

Don’t overdo it either, because that can come across highly creepy. If you make sure you do it very naturally, this will help make your efforts seem more sincere and make the customer feel more comfortable and allows them to trust you and your company more. According to Joyce E. A. Russell, a seasoned organizational psychologist, ‘A person’s name is the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality.

When you use a name, you’re having a conversation with a real person; a customer with a job, a life and a legitimate reason behind their frustration, rather than a faceless “ma’am or sir”. This will also help you understand their problems easier and ensure that you resolve their issues as seamlessly as possible.

5. You need to be the solution

There may be cases where the customer’s issue needs to be escalated to your supervisor, or a different team. In such cases, the customer is still YOUR responsibility.

At the end of the day, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the respective person or team has been alerted of the issue, and your responsibility to ensure that the issue has been resolved.

According to the Global Consumer Pulse Survey by Accenture, 89% of customers get frustrated because they need to repeat their issues to multiple representatives. And why wouldn’t they? Put yourself in their shoes, there is nothing more frustrating than having to repeat yourself multiple times when all you want to do is to resolve the issues and move on with life.

Instead, make sure that when you escalate the issue to a different team you familiarize them with the history of the issue so that the customer won’t have to repeat themselves, and make sure that they alert you when the issue is resolved so that you can consider it an issue resolved.

If it will take longer to be resolved, ensure that this is made aware to the customer and let them know when they can expect a response. It is also just as important that you reach out to them on the day you promised a response, even if it’s to say that it may take longer to resolve.

At Tap Payments, we try to make this process as seamless as possible in our live chat experience. When different teams are involved, they can be quickly looped into the conversation and they can quickly read up on the conversation to understand the customer history and attempt to resolve it as soon as possible.

You may not be able to salvage every raging customer. Some may just be the kind of people who are always in a state of anger or some may have had way too many bad experiences already. No combination of words or pleasantries may help in this situation, you just have to accept it for what it is and remain polite and helpful.

The best solution is always to not let the customers get angry in the first place. However, the tips above may help smooth most angry customer interactions that you run into and turn them around to happy customers again.

Are their any specific tips or tricks that you have found to be useful when dealing with angry customers? What companies in the region do you find to have a particularly helpful customer experience team? Tell us. We'd love to hear about them!