How to LEAR at Screaming Customers in 4 Easy Steps

Anyone who’s ever worked in customer service will tell that the job is not always about smiles and happy customers. This is especially true when you consider that most customers won’t contact you to tell you what a fantastic experience they’ve just had with your company. Instead, most customers will reach out to complain about a problem they are having.

Perhaps the most difficult situation in customer service is learning how to deal with an irate customer who won’t stop yelling at you. What should you do? What should you say? These are important questions, and knowing the answers will help to ensure that you don’t escalate a bad situation.

Sometimes, staying calm and being polite won’t be enough of an effort on your part.barb video pic small

In my video, Customer Response Policies, I teach you about LEAR — a proven process to successful deal with irate customers. While the technique appears simple enough, 4 steps only, implementing it may be a challenge. This is because during the heat of a bad encounter with a screaming customer, it is very difficult not to take the screaming personally. And this makes it very difficult to remain focused on the task at hand — turning around your customer from screaming to satisfied.

Strategies that Turn It Around!

Following are the 4 steps that make up LEAR:

  1. L — Listen. Do not interrupt a customer who is yelling at you. Simply listen to what a customer is saying. Just know that the customer will eventually have to stop. Interrupting at the very start of an encounter will just fuel the fire.
  2. E — Empathize. This is the most important step of the LEAR process. And the step involves you getting out of your shoes and into your customer’s shoes. “I’m so sorry for the inconvenience. I agree that this is not acceptable.” What you don’t want to say is, “I understand how you feel.” Because 9 out of 10 times, customers will unequivocally tell you, “Oh no you don’t!” Feel their pain. Let customers know that you truly care.
  3. A — Ask. Ask clarifying questions. Rephrase what a customer tells you:  “Let me see if I got his right. You’re saying 1, 2, and 3.” Asking questions and rephrasing statements let customers know that you are taking the time to understand what the problem is and that you’re listening to them.
  4. R — Response.  The final step is to offer a solution. Again, this should be the last step. Don’t offer a response or solution at the very beginning of an encounter because customers will feel like you’re just trying to shut them up; You haven’t taken the time to listen.

Remember: When helping irate customers, calm and polite aren’t enough. You’ll need to arm yourself with LEAR to turn around irate clients into raving fans.

What other strategies have you used to turn around a customer from screaming to satisfied? If you use or have used LEAR, what were the results? Please share your experiences in the Comments section below.

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