If you think that angry customers or clients are simply annoying and pesky, well, think again. By listening carefully, you will find that most of the time they are telling you what is working with your business — and, more importantly, what is not. Since they are the reason you have a business, here are some tips to help you handle a difficult situation while getting some “free” advice for improving your business.


Stay calm and resist the temptation to react defensively. The most pressing need for an angry customer is to be heard; to be taken seriously. Stating your sincere intention to help will show respect and concern, creating a sense of goodwill.

Solve the Right Problem

Understand the problem from the customer’s perspective; re-state it to be sure. It’s best not to assume you know what went wrong. Ask for lots of details, including the problem’s impact on them and what, if anything, has been tried to resolve it.

When possible, provide an explanation for the problem, or promise that you will research it and do whatever you can to find a remedy. If the customer was responsible for the dilemma or company policy will not allow for a remedy, simply say you are sorry for what happened. Do not blame or apologize specifically about the mistake. There is the rare time when, even though the customer was at fault, you may want to contribute to a solution that is satisfactory to you and the customer – especially when the customer has been a loyal customer.

Aggrieved customers want some sense of fairness or justice. Thank them for bringing the issue to your attention. Remember, they have done you a favor in 3 ways:

  • Given you the best and most direct consulting information.
  • Given you the opportunity to improve your business.

Repair the Customer Relationship

Credibility is the key to building trust, so be sure to follow through with some type of communication, preferably personal. To help ensure a long-term relationship with a customer, be accountable for your part. Express genuine regret for their negative experience and appreciation for their willingness to let you know.

Research shows that most dissatisfied customers simply leave and do not return. Angry customers will tell between 10 and 20 others about a negative experience with your company. Satisfied loyal customers are one of your most important assets.

Upon Reflection

The Chinese word for conflict embodies the concepts of danger and opportunity. Along with confrontation, conflict can be threatening and may escalate when not dealt with effectively. The ability to know that a problem exists provides opportunity for it to be addressed.

Irate customers who communicate with you provide valuable learning opportunities, including letting you know how your business could be improved and giving you the chance to prevent the problem from happening again.

Always remember, however, that some customers are worth losing. Be willing to know who they are and why they are not good for your business.