Angry customers want to be heard

We’ve all had an angry customer or staff member who says they’re very unhappy about a policy, product or procedure. Often the thing that they’re unhappy about is something that’s out of our control and you only have a handful of choices: you can refer them to your manger, or, if you’re the manager, give in to their demands or stand your ground.

Feel, Felt, Found

But there’s a tried-and-true technique for dealing with difficult situations that’s really worth trying. It’s best remembered by the mantra ‘Feel, Felt, Found.’

This isn’t a devious bit of emotional manipulation. Far from it. It’s a simple technique that acknowledges that what the angry customer is feeling is genuine and demonstrates that you truly want to help them find a solution.

The technique goes something like this:

  • Firstly, you acknowledge their feelings by saying something like, ‘I can see how you feel’ or ‘I understand why you might feel that way,’ or ‘I know how you feel.’
  • Then you show that others (perhaps even yourself) have experienced the same feelings. ‘I’ve had numbers of other customers (or staff) who felt the same way.’
  • Then you lead in with your solution that shows the customer there’s another option. A way out of their problem that they might not have considered.
    So, you say something like, ‘But they found that when they did x, y happened.’
    Clearly, you’re not going to say ‘x’ and ‘y’. You’re going to use real examples from your experience.

Let’s look at a couple of situations.

  • Customer A is upset that they can’t find an itemised list of their purchases on your website.
    You’d say:I know how you feel. I’ve had a couple of other customers who felt that way.
    But they found that using the app instead of the website, it was easy to find all their purchases under ‘my account.’
  • Customer B has bought shirts advertised as non-iron and is upset to find that the shirts are creased when taken off the line or out of the dryer.
    So, you might say:I know how you feel.
    I felt the same way.
    But I found that taking the shirts out of the dryer (or off the line) and hanging them up when they were almost, but not quite, dry meant they didn’t need ironing.

This is such a simple and useful technique to have in your customer service tool-kit.

Words matter and those of your customers matter most.

Words matter

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