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How to keep an upset customer from upsetting other customers

Good customer service plays a major role in the success of a company. When a customer is not happy for whatever reason they are most likely not going to do business with your company again. They also may tell family and friends the negative experience they had. The loss of potential customers just from one customer's unhappiness can have a negative impact on a company.
When dealing with an unhappy customer there are several things to keep in mind. Don't take it personal, an unhappy customer is often upset with something that you had no control over. Their dissatisfaction may have been late shipping or merchandise that doesn't work; the customer knows that you didn't make the product or cause the shipping delay. Often times the customer may just need to "vent" and express their dissatisfaction to someone and unfortunately that person is you. Maintain your composure, be polite and handle the situation in a professional manner.

When a customer is irate, stay calm and try to defuse the situation. Never tell a customer to "calm down", instead show that you are listening, and give the customer your full attention. Try to put yourself in the customer's shoes, acknowledge what the problem is. Make sure you know exactly what the problem is by restating what they have told you.
Apologize to the customer and express that you understand their feelings by saying "I am sorry that your gizmo is broke, I understand how frustrating that can be".
Take action to solve the customer's problem. Offer the customer choices if possible. For example, ask the customer if they would like a new gizmo to replace the broken one or would they prefer a refund. Use your best judgment and follow company policy when trying to find a solution to the customer's problem. If your company does not offer money back unless the customer has a receipt, let the customer know this but also let them know that you can replace the item or give them a store credit if they prefer.
You may want to also offer more after solving the problem. First do what you said you were going to do to solve the problem and if possible go a little farther by offering a discount on a future purchase, a free gift or a free dessert. For example, a customer has complained the steak they ordered is well done not rare. After fixing the problem and making sure the steak is how they want it, offer them a free dessert for any inconvenience that may have been caused.
Of course there will always be customers that no solution is going to satisfy them. If you have done your best and gave the customer all the options that are possible to solve the problem, you may just have to "let them go". Apologize to the customer that you are unable to help them, but these are the only solutions that you have to solve the problem. Sometimes even solving the customer's problem doesn't make them happy, you need to just maintain your professionalism and politeness throughout the entire situation.
Irate customers are as much a part of business as good customers. Finding solutions to customer complaints should be a priority. If a customer wants to speak with your supervisor, let them speak to your supervisor. Many times a customer feels a supervisor is the only person that can fix their problem. Customer service is always important in business, so to ensure your business succeeds customer satisfaction is a must. And if a customer finds the time to complain about a problem, you should find the time to resolve that problem.

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