Think back to the last time you tried to put together a piece of furniture. About three hours in to the process, you most likely found yourself sweating, swearing and your living room resembling that of a disaster zone. You probably called the customer service line at the company and were either A: Calmed down and helped, step-by-step, by a friendly a customer service representative, or B: Placed on hold for 20 minutes only to then be connected to someone who couldn’t give you the answers you were looking for.

The latter situation creates angry customers, explains Shep Hyken, international customer service speaker and author of The Amazement Revolution: Seven Customer Service Strategies to Create an Amazing Customer (and Employee).

“Someone who calls a customer service line is most likely already pretty upset. But if they get bad service on the other end or can’t reach anyone at all, leads to even higher levels of anxiety and anger,” he says.

Here are his top tips for turning an angry customer into a happy one:

Step 1: Be accessible

There are few things worse than calling a customer service line on a weekend just to find out that the line is only open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

“Half the battle is just making it easy for your customer to reach you when there is a problem,” Hyken says.

Customer ServiceStep 2: Show empathy and accountability

Reassurance is key to winning over a disgruntled customer. When a customer calls, Hyken recommends saying something like, “Thanks so much for calling, we get calls like this often and that is why I’m here. I’m here to help solve your problem.” As long as you make them feel like you now own their problem, they will calm down, he says.

Step 3: Ask a question

Identify the exact problem by asking a clarifying question such as, “ I understand that you are upset; is the reason you called because you hope to get ‘x’ problem taken care of? If so, I’m your guy/girl.”

“Tell them to start from the beginning and to give you as much detail as possible,” Hyken recommends. “Watch, you will feel them calm down right away.”

Step 4: Let your employees be autonomous

Companies with excellent customer service policies empower employees to make quick decisions on behalf of customers. This means employees don’t need to seek managers' approval before solving a problem.

Hyken recommends, “As long as it is not illegal and it doesn’t hurt the company or cost a lot of money, all of your employees should be able to do what the customers want them to do. Empower your employees to make decisions and you will have happier staff members and customers.” 

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