Operations: How to Deal with an Angry Customer

angry customer

Every once in a while, a member loses their cool. They get frustrated and yell at your front desk person over an incorrectly billed membership. Or maybe even you, as a manager, took some heat because the locker rooms were messy after a busy lunch rush. How you and your employees handle yourselves in these situations says a lot about your company.

Here are some tips for defusing an angry customer interaction.

  1. Remain calm. Just because a member is yelling at you, that doesn’t mean you yell back at them — no matter how bad you’d like to. That will only escalate the situation. Instead, keep your emotions and tone under control. The longer you stay calm, the more likely the member will begin to calm down as well.
  2. Remember that the member isn’t really mad at you, they’re mad at the situation. Don’t take it personally. By taking your personal feelings out of the equation, you’ll be much more apt to respond appropriately. In addition, putting yourself in your member’s shoes can be helpful. If you were in their situation, what would it take to make it right?
  3. Really listen. Try and understand what the member is truly angry about. If you’re not listening and only thinking about your response or are on defense, you’re only likely to make the situation worse.
  4. Let the member know you care. Don’t dismiss their feelings — even if you feel like their feelings are unjustified. Tell them you’re grateful for their feedback because it makes your club a better place.
  5. Sincerely apologize. Members can see through a canned apology. If you were really listening to the member’s feedback, you’ll know how to apologize in a way that’s sincere. Repeat their concern back to them, why you understand it’s frustrating, and that you’re sorry the situation occurred.

Although we’d like to hope that customers never get upset, the reality is that when doing business, situations will arise that cause frustration. But again, how you handle the situation says a ton about your company’s culture. By taking an empathetic, understanding and graceful approach to tough situations, you’ll always come out on top.

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