Reacting to Angry Customers the Right Way Is Important

How you react to complaints could make the difference between keeping customers or losing them

We all know that not every customer is a happy one. It’s a given that at least a couple times in your career you will run into a customer who has had a bad experience with plumbers or just isn’t satisfied with the work that was done on the property.

If customers call to complain, it’s important to understand that they want the problem resolved. They are unhappy, but they are giving you a chance to fix it. Fix it and do it fast. Take those calls; don’t get defensive with them, even if you feel they are wrong. Your policy should be to handle every complaint with a positive attitude. Having that type of attitude will avoid the customer from taking it to a more public place, like social media.

There are several ways to de-escalate the situation if you do run into an angry customer: Use your listening skills, remain calm and apologize gracefully. Talk to your employees about each of these.

Listen Closely

When mad customers call, the best thing to do is just listen. Let them get it off their chest first, no matter how long they go on. While they are venting, take notes to better prepare yourself with an answer when you finally get to talk.

When they are done, summarize what you’ve heard and ask any questions to further clarify their complaint.

Remain Calm

When a customer starts yelling or being otherwise rude, there is nothing to be gained by responding in a similar manner. In fact, that will probably escalate the situation. Maintain control of yourself no matter how much you want to yell back.

After customers vent, they want to know you understand where they are coming from and how they feel. Express sympathy for their unpleasant customer experience. Respect and understanding go a long way toward smoothing things over.

Apologize Gracefully

Whether the customers’ complaints are legitimate or not is irrelevant. If you want them to stay customers, you need to apologize for the problem they are having (or perceive to be having). A simple, straightforward statement is often all that’s needed. Something like: “I’m sorry you’re not happy with our product. Let’s see what we can do to make things right.”

Making Things Right

Customers get rude or angry for a variety of reasons — some justified, some not. But since you’re in business to serve your customers, you’ll likely encounter rude or angry individuals at one time or another. How you respond can make the difference between a customer who feels satisfied with the resolution and one who vows to never patronize your business again.

Following the steps above will give you a good start on how to find a solution between the upset customer and you. Last thing you want to do is lose a good-paying customer over something that could have easily been fixed.

What advice would you give to fellow contractors when upset customers confront you? Email me at or call 715-350-8436.


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