How To Handle Angry Clients

If you are in Sales or work in the Customer Service department, or if you are an assistant, then you will know it doesn’t take much to engage in a very negative conversation with a customer no matter how strong your relationship to the customer might be.  In a recent discussion with a friend of mine, we came up with the question of how to handle the type of clients of most likely feel like giving the F-word. After exchanging couple of ideas with that friend of mine, I went to my resources and found this great and wonderful work from Tom Hopkins that best lights up on the issue. Well, it can be a client, but it can also be a friend, or even a relative, no matter your relationship to the person might be and no matter what you do, the following post written by Tom Hopkins will definitely be of a great help when it comes to how to handle angry people. To learn more about Tom Hopkins, visit his pages on Tom Hopkins Expert Page | Tom Hopkins Quotes | Ton Hopkins Videos

Too many salespeople, when faced with clients who range from dissatisfied to down right angry, choose the loser’s path by postponing handling the situation. This results in one of two things happening. Either the angry client decides the problem isn’t worth the aggravation and cools down (what every salesperson wishes would happen, but like many wishes, just thinking it won’t make it so). Or the client gets so angry that the next time you hear from him or her is through the higher-ups in your company who have absorbed some of the client’s anger and are happy to give it to you.

Because I understood that building relationships is what selling is all about, I began early in my career to send thank you notes topeople. I set a goal to send ten thank you notes every day. That goal meant that I had to meet and get the names of at least ten people every day. I sent thank you notes to people I met briefly, people I showed properties to, people I talked with on the telephone, and people I actually helped to own new homes. I became a thank you note fool. And guess what happened? By the end of my third year in sales, my business was 100% referrals! The people I had expressed gratitude to were happy to send me new clients as a reward for making them feel appreciated and important. If you are a small businessperson or sole proprietor, you may learn more about your client’s anger through legal channels. Naturally, no one wants to walk into a lion’s den and face the angry client. However, you must consider the value of this client to you, your reputation, and the company. In most cases, I would guess that it will be worth your while to face that angry customer and get the situation resolved as quickly as possible. I’d like to give you nine steps I’ve developed for facing and dispelling another person’s anger.

1. Acknowledge the other person’s anger quickly. Nothing adds more fuel to a fire than having his or her anger ignored or belittled. The faster you verbally recognize their anger, the better.

2. Make it plain that you’re concerned. Tell them you realize just how angry they are. Let them know that you are taking the situation seriously. Make notes of every possible detail they give you.

3. Don’t hurry them. Be patient. Let them get it all out. Never try to interrupt or shut them up. In many cases, the best move is to simply listen. They’ll wind themselves down eventually. In some cases, they’ll realize they blew the situation out of proportion and feel foolish for it. They are then likely to accept nearly any solution you offer.

4. Keep calm. Most angry people say things they don’t really mean. Learn to let those things pass and take them up after you’ve solved the present challenge – only if you feel it’s necessary to do so.

5. Ask questions. Your aim is to discover the specific things that you can do to correct the problem. Try to get specific information about the difficulties the problem has caused, rather than a general venting of hot air.

6. Get them talking about solutions. This is where you will learn just how reasonable this client is. By the time you get to this step, their anger should have cooled enough to discuss the challenge rationally. If it hasn’t tell them you want to schedule a later meeting, even if it’s in an hour, to come up with some reasonable solutions. Let them do the rest of their fuming on their time.

7. Agree on a solution. After you know exactly what the challenge is, you’re in a position to look for some kind of action that will relieve the challenge. Propose something specific. Start with whatever will bring them the best and quickest relief. Don’t get into a controversy over pennies at this time.

8. Agree on a schedule. Once you’ve agreed on a solution, set up a schedule for its accomplishment. Agree to a realistic time frame that you know you can handle. The biggest mistake you can make is to agree to something that cannot be done. If you do, you’d better be ready to face another bout of this person’s anger when you don’t come through.

9. Meet your schedule. Give this schedule top priority. You’ve talked yourself into a second chance with this client, so make sure you don’t blow it.

Tom Hopkins is world-renowned as America’s #1 sales trainer. For over 30 years, he has helped millions of sales professionals around the world serve more people through proven-effective selling skills. His books have sold in the millions, and hundreds of thousands of people benefit from his recorded audio and video programs every day. For more information, contact Tom Hopkins International by calling (800) 528-0446 or visit his website at

Add this anywhere


, , , ,

  1. #1 by theweeklyargus on August 14, 2010 - 12:53 am

    I think the best way to handle an angry client is to let them yell at you, then calmly apologize to them for whatever transgression they think you committed.

    Then, in the middle of your apology, hang up the phone. Nobody in their right mind would assume somebody would hang up on himself when he is talking, let alone when he’s trying to rectify a situation.

    Of course, if they call back, I have no suggestions for that.

  2. #2 by Max-Marc Fossouo on August 14, 2010 - 4:28 pm

    Thanks for checking out the blog and thanks for your feedback on this post. You are right on two points: When someone is yelling at you, do not yell back. Shut up, and listen. Another I believe you are right is in fact, if in hte middle of your apology you hang up the phone as you speak, the person will probably not believe you hung up on yourself because no normal person would do that. Yet, what is the purpose? Isn’t it come to a common agreement, and have the person trust back? If someone is angry, there is definitely a reason. I definitely wouldn’t recommend to play little games but to consider giving attention to the person in order to resolve the problem.

  3. #3 by Ton de Graaf on August 23, 2010 - 11:15 am

    From a coaching perspective, every time you stumble on a strong expression of emotions (anger, sadness, laughter etc.) it gives you a great opportunity to coach. Apparently you touched on something that is very near and dear to that person.

    You have come across the values that the person lives by, the very core of the persons being. Investigate this, be curious why they react the way they react.

    Ask questions to clarify this expression of emotions. Be genuinely interested, focus on the moment. What’s the reason for that emotion and why does it surface now?

    Don’t become defensive, but be curious, take them (and their emotions) seriously and you have a great chance to really start building rapport.

    Ton de Graaf
    Chartered Business Coach

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: