Upset Customers: R&R talks through managing customer emotions

Upset Customers: R&R talks through managing customer emotions

By Ian Richardson, Managing Partner, Richardson & Richardson Consulting LLC

Inspired by Thursday Process with guest Michael Crean, CEO of Solutions Granted, Inc.

Upset Customers

When a customer gets upset, it can sink a business relationship faster than icebergs being introduced to the Titanic at a dinner party. Those lost customers never failed to give me massive heartburn – How am I going to make payroll, who do we have to let go, how can I replace this revenue today? Fear, anxiety, frustration, and paralysis were all common “feelings” in my world and seem to be a theme across entrepreneurs in these situations. Upset customers require special care, especially around managing customer emotions while solving the root cause(s) of those emotional experiences.

Managing Customer Emotions

When a customer is having a strong reaction to a situation, you and your account management team must have a process that is well documented and understood around managing those customer emotions properly. At its core, the process I utilized consisted of a 4-step meeting, a 3-step internal review, and a scheduled follow up conversation. I’ll share those below:

  1. Ask good questions about the situation.
  2. Validate what was shared (Use Mirroring).
  3. Quantify Impact and Confirm Stakeholders.
  4. Set a follow up meeting with due dates.

Internally, we would ask ourselves three questions:

  • What did we do that we shouldn’t have done?
  • What didn’t we do that we should have done?
  • What did we learn?

Those lessons learned would be adopted into the process, SOPs, Standards, and training. We would operationalize them as rapidly as possible without further compromising experience. We would then follow up with the customer via a phone call when their immediate situation had been resolved, and in 60 days with that set follow up appointment to ensure that the feeling had dissipated, the impact was resolved, and the stakeholders were satisfied with the resolution. I would also explore the concept of the changes we had implemented and if those were meeting expectations so far. Depending on how upset the customer had been, I would schedule another 90 day phone call or visit to do a second follow up, repeating until the customer had returned to a state of “satisfied.”

Final word on upset customers.

I had a good conversation with my friend Michael Crean, CEO of Solutions Granted (A managed security services provider, or MSSP), and he shared a fantastic observation paired with one of his best practices around the topic and keeping his head on straight. You can hear directly from Michael in the video clip below.

If you’re struggling with communication and customer expectations, figuring out how to effectively start managing customer accounts, or getting alignment with your team on the need to invest in the effort, Richardson & Richardson can help. Check out our case studies for stories of organizations that we’ve assisted with similar issues and download our white papers for deep dives on tools you can use in your organization. If you’re wondering where to start, book a complimentary session with one of the Richardsons today to come up with a plan on how to move forward.


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