Demystifying the Irate Customer

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Many customer service training programmes typically have a section on ‘How to handle an irate customer’. This is an angry, frustrated, hair-pulling, glass-shattering, verbally abusive, individual who has interacted with your business and is deeply upset about the experience. Such a person, it is understood, requires a different approach than the sweet and peaceful customer.

But who is this irate customer?

The irate client is often irate because the business or organization has failed in two key dimensions of quality service: Responsiveness and Reliability. First she gets bad service or a poor product. Then she tries to do the logical thing: lay a complaint. Many times, she has called severally but no one picks the phone. She sends an email but either gets an automated response or none at all. And then she probably comes to your office and receives a cold treatment. At this point, she flares up. And the rest is left to your Lagos imagination!😁 .

The best way to avoid this unpleasant scenario as a business is to work on yourself. Assess the value you provide to customers. Are your products of good quality? As a hospital, are your doctors and nurses well trained? You provide laundry services, but are the clothes properly done consistently? Sorting out the quality you provide handles the dimension of Reliability.

Then how responsive are you to complaints? What’s your process like? Do you ignore calls and complaint emails? Is there even any staff on ground to attend to them? And when you do attend to them, how well do you resolve the issue. When you fix this, you would have taken care of the dimension of Responsiveness.

The irate client is not a monster. She is simply a customer who has sadly been taken for granted for too long. Maintain a high quality for your goods or services, and ensure timely and proper resolution to customer enquiries and complaints. When you do this, you have a better chance of keeping your customers sweet, gentle and lifelong. And that is the goal.

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