This is the final article in this series about dealing with angry people.
In this article, the word “client” is used to refer to either an external client of the organization, an internal client / colleague or a friend / family member.
The objective of this series of articles is to provide you with some basic psychological insights into ways of dealing with angry people, either face-to-face or by telephone, in a more effective manner.
Problem # 10: NOT Showing that you are Listening to Them.
When dealing with an angry person it is imperative that, at all times, they hear and feel that you are listening to them. In face-to-face communication people subconsciously process the three communication channels – Verbal (7%), paralinguistic (38%) & non-verbal (55%) – during the conversation. When the communication is by telephone, the non-verbal element is missing which means that the listener has to “fill in” the missing information using their own knowledge, or feelings, which could be incorrect and lead to serious, and unexpected, consequences.
Solution: Use Echoic Responses.
One of the best way of showing that you are listening to someone is by using an ”Echoic Response” which is when the listener repeats the last few words or last phrase used by the other person as an introduction to what they are going to say. The listener is literally “Speaking their Language” which is subconsciously understood and appreciated by the listener and viewed as one of the best and fastest methods of obtaining rapport with someone. It is also a clear example that the listener is actually listening! An additional benefit of this technique is that it can be used in other contexts such as Sales, Negotiations, Meetings, etc.
Problem # 11: Not Focussing 100% on the Client.
When working with an angry person, especially by telephone, many people are easily distracted by thing that are happening around them which means that their attention wanders from the task they are doing (& getting paid for!) : attending to an angry person. People will notice if you are not focussed on them: you ask them to repeat what they have just said; you hold “Parallel Conversations” with another person; you ask them to “Wait one minute, please”, etc.
Solution: Focus on the Person.
The only way to ensure that you are focussed on them is for you to ACTUALLY be focussed on them. Remember that your job is to solve their problem and remove their worries & fears as well as give them renewed confidence in your organization.
Problem # 12: Forgetting that any Angry Client is an Opportunity to Create Brand / Organizational Loyalty.
A multinational organization with headquarters in France considers that a complaint from a client is a gift; an opportunity to improve and to create brand loyalty. This is even more true with an angry client. A client who has their problem solved rapidly & effectively will become a loyal one which means that they return and purchase more products from your organization and recommend it to other people. You only have ONE opportunity to create a great impression, so do not waste it!
A Boston Consulting Group study indicates that a client who is happy with his treatment by an organization will tell an average of 13 people about it in a way which is positive for the company. However, an unhappy client will express his feelings to 24 people in a way which is negative for the organization. When you consider the knock-on effect of bad comments that go from unhappy clients to friends & family and then are re-transmitted to their friends and family…How many clients are being lost indirectly by not treating an angry client properly and effectively?
To read the previous articles, please look at my previous BLOG entries with the same title.
© Ian Brownlee, Brownlee & Associates, S.L., 2012.