4 simple tips for communicating with frustrated customers

It’s no secret that people who contact your business might be (more than) a little frustrated right now. An effect of COVID we’ve all felt is a lack of goods and services readily available in the quality and quantity we were accustomed to in the before-times.

The pandemic has presented a litany of obstacles and hurdles for most industries such as service delays, product shortages (who knew glass containers would become a hot commodity?), staffing issues, long wait times for deliveries, and dreaded higher prices (inflation is no joke), all of which are served with a heaping side of frustration from customers.

Small business owners are at a crucial intersection of making up for lost revenue and reassembling how their businesses operate with skeleton crews and limited resources. At Ruby, we have faced similar challenges, and through our own growth, we are able to manage these kinds of conversations every day!

Here are a few tips from our incredible team of receptionists and customer communication specialists:

1. Lead with empathy.

Everyone is drained and on edge from the pandemic. After spending much of the past two years isolated with the same bubble of people, our social skills probably aren’t as sharp as they once were.

Having customer conversations with understanding and compassion can change the entire tone of the customer experience and resolution. You can practice empathy by taking on the customer’s perspective, leaving judgement at the door, recognizing their emotions, and by communicating understanding.

2. Hone your active listening skills.

More than anything, frustrated customers want to feel heard. Shape your communications to fit the needs of your customers by focusing on what you can do for them instead of what isn’t readily available or possible. Active listening builds trust between customers and employees, making them feel valued and taken care of, and yields compassion and understanding in return.

3. Communicate clearly and with humanity.

Much like the Golden Rule, great customer service means engaging with frustrated customers in the manner you would hope to be treated. It’s not just the kind thing to do—it opens the door for clear and humane communication. Looking for opportunities to connect with customers outside of the scope of your business builds familiarity and offers authenticity and a wow factor that the customer may not have been expecting.

4. Optimize your customer service from start to finish.

Customer service has always required specialized skills. But it’s become extra complex in this global virtual society filled with advertising algorithms, customer review-based platforms, and influencers (and weird uncles with a lot of opinions).

All that said, it’s still possible to optimize your customer service—and it’s less complicated than you might think. Consistent and meaningful customer service is an attainable goal for any business. For easy ways to get started, take a look at our comprehensive customer service audit checklist.

These are just a few tips for you and your business to help navigate through this ever-changing and unpredictable world. No matter what your flavor of excellent customer service is, remember to also be patient, kind, and understanding with yourself during this global period of transition, adjustment and beyond!

For more tips, check out these 101 ways to improve customer experience.