Contrary to the popular saying, the customer is not always right. But what do you do when they’re wrong?

You don’t want to lose a customer because he or she has inaccurate or misleading information about your business. But how do you tell customers they are wrong without angering them?

Here are some tips for handling situations when a customer makes an incorrect or unfair complaint:

  1. Wait a minute (or more).

Don’t react immediately – especially if it’s a phone call. If the customer is angry and provocative, you’re more likely to get angry or defensive and say something you might regret later. (And you can be sure the customer will let the world know how you treated them – likely with a little embellishment to make you look bad and themselves look good.)

Do not ignore the customer but, rather than call right away, you might want to send a calm text setting up phone call for later after you have had a time to think about the complaint or claim.

  1. Stay away from social media.

Now is not the time to hop on Instagram, Twitter or any other social media site to say: #MyClientIsTheWorst. Remember that other customers will read your posts and will see you treating another customer poorly. Regardless, of whether you’re right or wrong, that looks bad.

Instead, take a break, and a deep breath, then do this…

  1. Do some research.

There’s a reason the customer thought he or she was right. What could have lead them astray?

Perhaps something on your website is misleading and lead them to think they were getting something better – or just different – than they got. Or maybe they really were treated unfairly but it wasn’t your fault and they don’t realize that.

Do some research and find possible reasons for your customer’s dissatisfaction. And be ready with possible solutions to make them happy.

  1. Listen to your customer.

When you do contact your customer, hear them out before explaining why they are wrong. You might think: “Wait. What? But they’re wrong!”

Yes, they’re wrong, but keep in mind that they may feel that they have a legitimate reason to be upset and just want to feel respected. Let the customer tell you how they came to their (wrong) idea or conclusion – even if you already have figured it out.

That would not be wasted time – you would confirming that you were right, and listening to how the customer got it wrong might give you valuable information for the future. And there’s always the possibility that the customer is right.

  1. Focus on solutions.

So you’ve figured out what went wrong. There’s a right way and a wrong way to make the customer happy:

  • Give your customer a choice, if possible. Maybe they want the product or service they thought they were getting, maybe they want their money back. Or maybe they want something else – try to be flexible.
  • Be polite but sincere. Keep in mind that consumers are used to customer representatives who have scripts saying lines like, “Oh, I am so sorry you feel this way.” False sincerity can just further annoy the customer.
  • Get straight to the point. Make conversation if the customer seems open to it but, in your attempt to win back an unhappy customer, don’t go overboard and try to become their best friend. Don’t take too long to get to your research and your solutions – that’s what will ultimately make them happy.
  1. Be ready to take the next steps forward (or step away).

Did your customer listen to your suggestions and agree? If so, great! Discuss how you can put your plan into action and continue building a great customer relationship.

But what if your client doesn’t agree with you? Then there’s a good chance that this person might not be the right client or customer for you. (There are some people in this world who just cannot be satisfied.)

It’s okay if you feel like ending the business relationship is the best thing to do. Just be sure to do this in a polite manner, even if the customer isn’t being polite. Being rude does not help you and could hurt you. (How do you know the customer is not getting video and audio?)

  1. Look for lessons learned.

No matter what happens, write or type some more notes about any lessons you’ve learned from this experience.

Final Thoughts on How to Say “No” to Customers

Telling customers that they are wrong is never completely easy, even as you get older. But learning from these experiences will help you find and keep great customers while building a successful business.

Photo by Free To Use Sounds on Unsplash



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