The customer is, indeed, always right even when they’re dead wrong. It doesn’t matter. A dissatisfied customer will bad-mouth you to anyone and everyone who’ll listen. Negative word of mouth (WOM) can really hurt your company’s bottom line, along with your hard-earned reputation for client care.

These days, your customers or clients can provide raves or slams to you, your business, and your standards for quality customer care on reviewing sites like Yelp® and Angie’s List®. A single bad review can cost you a lot of future business.

When a consumer of your products or services has a complaint, use it as an opportunity to turn that consumer into your best friend – the one who tells all her friends about what a good experience she had buying from you.

Here are some suggestions on how to make that happen:

Listen. A lot of times an irate client or customer just wants to blow off a little steam – at you. Let them vent. The more you listen, the easier it will be to develop a solution to their problem.

Stand by your team. If an angry client is being abusive to one of your team, insert yourself and allow the representative to leave it up to you. Stay calm. Never raise your voice. Never admit that the consumer’s complaint is your fault or the store’s fault. Never admit fault, but find a fix. Remind the irate customer that you’re there to fix the problem to the customer’s satisfaction. Then do it.

Build a rapport with that unhappy customer. Empathize with the customer. Imagine how you would feel if you were in their situation, and if you were having an especially bad day. If company policy allows, introduce yourself and take personal responsibility. Knowing that a “real person” is taking care of them instead of a faceless organization can go a long way toward calming them down.  

Try to solve the problem, or get someone who can make a decision. Provide customer care representatives the authority to solve consumer problems. If they aren’t empowered to give refunds, they should at least know who is. All customer care reps should understand when and how to escalate an issue. They should know the name of the person who is empowered to make a tough decision, and be able to contact them immediately to fix the customer’s problem.

Work with the customer to find a solution. When dealing with ferocious customers who are angry that their purchase didn’t arrive on time or doesn’t work, at some point recognize that all you can do is give in.

Bite your tongue, offer a complete refund, and take the loss. You’ll get it back in good WOM advertising, the best advertising there is because it comes from one trusted source to another.

It’s just business. When the customer starts calling you and your ancestors names, don’t respond. You’ll only make things worse. You can’t take personally the ravings of an angry customer. They don’t know you; you don’t know them. It’s not a debate, it’s business.

Display terms of sale everywhere. At the checkout, at the POS, on the contract or sales agreement – if you offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee, you want that sales benefit on everything associated with your company.

Don’t try to hide a loophole in the microscopic print. You don’t want a lawsuit, you don’t want an angry customer in your place of business, or leaving bad reviews on consumer websites.

An unhappy customer is an opportunity to recruit a convert. Fix the problem. Follow up a month later with a friendly email. Stay in touch with unhappy customers or clients until they’re walking, talking billboards for the level of client care you deliver with every sale.

Turn an angry customer into part of your sales force by keeping each customer satisfied. Is your customer is happy, they’ll tell their friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family – and your business benefits as WOM spreads that you’re the business everyone should do business with.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC