Dealing With Angry or Frustrated Customers

Imagine waking up tomorrow and getting ready for work.

As soon as the alarm radio goes off, you sense something isn’t right. You can’t understand the language the DJ is speaking. Turning from station to station gets the same results… they all seem to be speaking in a strange language.

You pick up the phone and call a loved one to see if they’re experiencing the same thing on their radio. The voice that answers at the other end of the line sounds like your sister…but the language she is speaking is the same as you are hearing on the radio. You don’t understand a word she’s saying. After a few moments you hang up the phone in frustration.

You quickly get ready for work, worrying what’s happening to you. ‘What’s going on? Why can’t anyone understand me?’

The problem gets worse when you arrive at your job. The receptionist smiles at you and says… who knows what? The same garbled unintelligible language comes out of her mouth. You ask if she can understand you, and her face quickly becomes worried. She can’t.

This goes on and on throughout the day, each person you come in contact with doesn’t understand you, and you don’t understand them. A few hours later your boss comes to your office, accompanied by two medical attendants. They continue to speak in their foreign language as they strap you into a stretcher and take you to the hospital.

Not a good day for you, am I right?

We all want/need to be understood, and we use language as a key component of communication.

When a person feels they aren’t being understood, they begin to get frustrated. This frustration is often mistakenly called “Anger” by those around her/him.

In the example above, you would become angry, louder, agitated, and frustrated with your inability to understand and be understood by others. This frustration can be seen in people of every age when they feel they aren’t being understood.

A small child will say the four words they know and get angry when the adult they’re talking to can’t understand them. The adult needs more words to understand, but the child can’t provide them. Both people are frustrated, and they will likely appear angry to each other.

An adult will make a statement that makes perfect sense to them, but the person they’re talking to understands the sentence differently. No matter how hard the two try, they can’t get the other to see their point of view. Voices get louder, tempers get shorter, frustration ensues, and they likely both believe the other person is angry.

The ability to understand another person and make them feel understood, will usually ‘calm them down’ and they will rate their experience with you as positive.

Empathy, the ability to ask questions, and the ability to communicate will enable a person to do this.
Angry and Frustration can both display the same outward signs (body language, level of voice, apparent agitation, etc.)radio strap

Angry people appear to attack others, but I think frustrated people want help.

When an angry customer approaches me I don’t think of them as angry. I say to myself, “This person is frustrated and feels that I can help them in some way. Let’s see if I’m able to understand them so that I can assist in solving their frustration.”

It’s easier to help a frustrated person. An angry person can be much more difficult.

Question: “What does it matter if I call them angry or frustrated, just so long as I help them?”

Answer: Generally we don’t like angry people. On the other hand, we can try to be patient and help people who are frustrated.

If you’re involved in Customer Service (and you are!) which type of person would you rather interact with?

Angry people all day long?
Frustrated people all day long who are just looking for some help?

That next customer with a frown on his face, throwing his arms in the air, marching forcefully towards you as his brows scrunched up, and taking a big breath to bellow out why he has to return his product……… isn’t angry.

He’s just frustrated.

Please help him.

For 24 years Terry has consciously honed his skills in the fields of relationship sales and customer service. This led him to Sales Team Management, and soon to a level of excellence in Sales Team Leadership, Motivation, and ultimately to achieve national success and recognition. It also led to a profound realization. He had achieved much, but he had also taught, trained, coached and motivated many others to reach their own level of excellence. In doing so, he helped companies to attain higher levels of sales and service, and a measurable increase in market share.

Now as an entrepreneurial business manager, developer and trainer, Terry assists corporate and individual clients to reach the pinnacle in sales and service. From mentoring programs and plans aimed at improving sales and increasing profits, to boosting employee effectiveness and escalating the quality of customer service, he is able to help bring companies and individuals to the peak of success.



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