What to Do When a Customer is Upset


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Working in sales and marketing, we have the opportunity to interact with a lot of different people every day. In most instances, the interactions are friendly and courteous. The overall goal of sales and marketing is to essentially win people over to your way of thinking, so keeping things lighthearted and fun should be your goal. However, it would be a lie if I told you that ALL interactions would be friendly. Once in a while, you will encounter a customer or a prospect who is either upset with you, your product, or your brand. Unfortunately, just because someone is upset doesn’t mean that you get a ‘free pass’ when it comes to your closing %. Ultimately, you have to work to sell to everyone, including those who are upset.

So, what do we do when the customer or prospect is upset? How do we turn it around, fix the situation, and set ourselves up for more business?

Let the Customer Vent Uninterrupted

The first thing that you will want to remember is to simply let the customer vent. No matter how ludicrous or incorrect it might seem, interrupting them in the middle of their complaint will only further infuriate them. Rather than interrupt them, simply let them finish their whole complaint. It might take a while, but at the end, the customer will have had the opportunity to voice all of his/her issues with you.

Actively Listen

Be a good listener. Don’t break eye contact, cross your arms, and look around the room while the customer is upset. At this point, you want the customer to feel as if they are being heard, not ignored. Here are 8 rules for being a good listener. 


Rather than just saying “You are wrong!” to the customer, empathize with them. Nobody wants to be told that they are incorrect about something. If you go down that path, an argument will be the end result. We want to avoid arguments as much as possible, so when you are starting to respond to a complaint, empathizing is the best strategy that you can use. When you empathize, say something like “I can understand how you feel, that would frustrate me as well.” To the customer, their feelings are very real – empathizing will show the prospect that you recognize those feelings and agree with them. This will help ‘disarm’ the customer and will open them up to listen to your point of view.

Work on a Solution with a Plan of Action

When a customer is upset and complains about something, they are really looking for a solution to their problem. You can empathize all you want, but unless you take steps to fix their issue, they will remain upset. If the issue can be resolved easily, tell the customer what you will do to resolve the problem. Tell them your plan of action to fix the issue and keep them informed. A customer who is ‘in the loop’ is a happy customer.

Frustrated and upset customers are not as rare as you’d like to imagine. One day, you will have to handle a situation where someone is upset with either you, your product or your brand. Take advantage of the above strategies to help overcome the problem and to help lead the customer back to satisfaction.



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Author: Jason Karaman

Hello! I’m a marketing, sales, and customer service expert, trainer, author, and doer. I live in the South Carolina Lowcountry with my wife, Ashley. I enjoy reading (history, philosophy, and science are my favorite topics), writing, hiking, kayaking, and all things beach. For media inquiries, send an email to JasonKaraman@ExpertCaller.com

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