Dealing With Angry Customers

Dealing With Angry Customers: A Plan For Rockledge Business Owners

As I have been saying to some of my personal tax preparation clients in Rockledge, I’m not sure that there is very much that I could say that could add anything to the conversation about what happened last week in Parkland, FL.

It seems that every time something like this happens, we grieve for shorter and shorter amounts of time and move on ever-more quickly to the shouting at each other over root causes.

But the fact remains that there are 17 families whose entire world has been decimated, and a community who is reeling. With the speed of social media these days, it’s easy to take this opportunity to make various points (many of them quite valid), but should we perhaps notice about ourselves and our culture that we seem to “move on” so very quickly?

I’d like to never become “numb” to such things. And so we pause to mourn with those families, even here in the midst of our busiest season. 

In times like this, I’m grateful for the moments I’ve been given with my Rockledge friends and my family … and I am reminded that everything can change in an instant.

It truly does keep all of our various business struggles in perspective.

And last week I wrote to you about some of those struggles, specifically as to when you and your Rockledge team are dealing with angry customers over some sort of problem.

And I gave you a framework for that which involves hearing the customer and making things right.

However … sometimes that’s actually not enough because you are dealing with a customer who has completely lost control.

(Sadly, I’ve heard from some Rockledge business owner clients who deal with a large volume of customers that this kind of behavior has increased over recent years; which I find concerning for our culture.)

So, here are some ideas for that particular circumstance…

Dealing With Angry Customers: A Plan For Rockledge Business Owners
“Great minds think alike, but fools seldom differ.” ~ English Proverb

Last week, I wrote about handling upset customers, and I laid out a simple four-step method:

1) Hear the customer and don’t interrupt.
2) Mirror back (empathize) with something like: “I can understand why you’re upset.  I would be upset too.” Or, “I’m really sorry that happened to you.”
3) Ask: “What can I do to make this right?”
4) Resolve – Unless the request is absolutely ridiculous, DO IT!

But what happens if the customer is completely ridiculous?

It starts here: as the owner or general manager of the Rockledge business you’ll need to decide just how much empowerment you’ll give your staff to resolve an issue.

Let’s assume you have 3 levels of personnel in your Rockledge business — front line, manager, and you. You might give the front line person the authority to give $100 worth of satisfaction (credit, whatever) when the customer isn’t just being ridiculous — and up to a $50 credit even if the request is ridiculous.

You might then give the manager the authority to give up to a $300 credit even if the customer is ridiculous — and a $1,000 credit otherwise.

Notice that the ridiculous requests still get handled, just … not as generously.

Credits over this amount may need your personal approval. You’ll need to determine where these levels are and put them in writing. But just as important as where the levels are, is how everyone is trained to handle the ridiculous customer.

If your people think the client is being ridiculous, or the amount is more than they are comfortable with, they should be trained to pleasantly stall for time and refer it to you later with something like, “I’m sorry, I’ll need to talk with my boss about this.  I’m sure you’ll be hearing back before noon tomorrow. And if we can’t, I’ll be sure to call you.” Then be absolutely certain to get back to the client before your associate said you would.

When you have a PLAN in place, you can handle just about anything in your business. No matter how crazy.

Feel very free to forward this article to a Rockledge business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Rockledge families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.


Daniel Henn
(321) 684-7800

Daniel Henn, CPA, PA