It’s an unfortunate fact of life that occasionally, a client will be very, very upset with you. Motivational psychologists tell us that an angry customer, handled correctly, can turn into a valuable friend and ally. Here’s what you can do, in five easy steps:
1. Tell them you are sorry. Promise that it won’t happen again.
2. Ask them what it would take to calm them down. Don’t make any suggestions or set any limits. In rare cases they will want a simple apology (see step one).
3. If you can give them what they want, do so. If you can’t (and let’s face it, you probably can’t — there’s an excellent chance that they are being unreasonable), tell them they will have to speak to your manager.
4. Let them speak to your partner. Tell the client that he or she is your manager. While this is technically a lie, it’s a helpful lie for both you and the client.
5. Repeat steps one through three. If you and your “manager” can’t resolve the issue, it’s best to leave the client and let them cool off for a few weeks. Under no circumstances should you direct the client to contact your actual manager, or any senior BSI employee.