3 Reasons Why An Angry Customer Is Your Best Friend

Working in the service industry is really interesting as you can meet many types of people along the way. It holds a number of opportunities for one to observe how people think, feel and react to different levels of service. But the “service life” can be hard sometimes. One of them is when you face an angry customer.

Really, dealing with an angry customer can be both frustrated and yet scary at the same time. It’s like talking to Jules Winnfield with his 9mm point at your face. Make one tiny mistake and you will be dead. And you will usually be dead, I guarantee it.

Yes, angry customers are scary. But here’s the good part. They are not that scary. They can be the best friends you can have. I will give you three reasons why you can meet them with a warm welcome.

1. They are telling the truth.

Okay, maybe not always but most of the time, your angry customer is telling the truth about your services. This part is good. This part is bad. This part is terrible. Oh I love this part.

A best friend is the one who dare to tell the truths about you. The ugly truths other people don’t usually say. When the customers get angry, they can’t help but expressing their true opinions and feelings. Those opinions and feelings are so “raw”, they also describe your “best friend” personalities and habits. Why bother asking how your customers think about you when they are telling you the truth right in your face?

I have seen too many people relied on the information from their market research team and acted solely on that information. In fact, market research are not that great of giving you good insights. In the famous Coca-Cola’s blind taste test in 1985, more than half of the participants say they prefer the New Coke to either the Classic Coke and Pepsi. Coca-Cola soon realized it was one of their biggest mistakes, resulted in millions of revenue loss. The New Coke never replaced the original, no matter how good it tasted. That being said, it takes years of experience to actually see through the mist of market research and catch the true answer. In the end, it’s a game of mind for both side.

So, why do it the hard way? Just give a chat with your “best friend” and he will spit out everything. A talk with him can hold more insights than any research. And if you handle it well, he would come back with another pieces of valuable information.

2. They bother to tell you the truth.

Some angry customers bother to tell your how angry they are. Some don’t. The latter will just keep silence and befriend with your competitors. And it’s the worst situation ever. Not only you are losing your customers to other competitors but you are also losing their lifetime value. Many people don’t realize the importance of customer lifetime value. It’s just one customer, what’s the big deal? And they paid for it.

When your customers take the step to tell you how they think or how they feel, congratulation! The fact that they raise their voice often means that they want to stay with you. “I like you, so I want you to be better!” Sound good enough?

A best friend will want you to be better. So do your customers, especially an angry customer. So what should you do? There many things you can do: promise them a better service next time, saying that you appreciate their feedback, sending a gift to show your gratitude,… No matter what you do, do it with honesty.

(Reproduced from Timothy Tiah, 2015)

Last year, Farm Fresh Milk, a dairy brand from Netherlands, was struck by a crisis on social media. An angry customer who “was hit twice in a row” by their faulty products decided to start a boycott against them. Instead of panicking and trying to cover everything up, Farm Fresh Milk sincerely apologized for their defective products, kindly told the interesting story behind their brand and sent a whole bunch of new products for free as a remedy. The once angry customer is now one of the their most loyal. Farm Fresh Milk nailed it. You can read their full story here.

The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. — Captain Jack Sparrow

An article from Harvard Business Review estimated that a 5% increase in customer loyalty can lead to 25–85% increase in profit (Heskett et al, 2008). So take your chance and make the most out of it.

3. It’s a chance for self-reflection!

If your attack’s going really well, it’s an ambush. — Murphy’s Law of Wars

If things are going to well, chances are your’s doing it wrong. You are doing the same thing everyday, following the same routines because nothing happens. But the world always changes, and so do your competitors. Maybe you are actually falling behind. Thus, when an angry customer approaches, it’s an opportunity for you to self-reflect on your own services.

So what are we self-reflecting about? Everything. The customer service is a chain of different levels. When you take a look back, you will want to see it from-top-to-bottom. Every good customer service model always has consistency, high-quality services down to very small details. Hence, if a customer is complaining about one thing, check everything.

Don’t be lazy. It will reward you greatly.

A normal person usually can’t clearly tell the difference in the quality between brands in the same category. Is Colgate better than P/S? I’m not sure. Well, can you tell if Apple provides better services than Samsung? You have your own answer.

We can’t tell the differences between products, but we can tell the differences between services. And that’s where you can make the difference. By continuously doing self-reflection, you are improving yourself from time to time. It’s the way to keep moving forward, to survive in this era of killer competition. And there’s no better chance to do it than when someone is telling where you just fucked up.

So the next time you meet an angry customer, don’t be afraid. Meet them with a smile, ask them what’s the problem. After all, they will tell you the truth because they want you to be better. And they are showing how you can be better!

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