Customer service tips (and a free template!) for handling angry customers

May 3, 2023

For U.S. business leaders, get your party hats on — it’s National Small Business Week! Here’s to all the SMBs driving the economy and supporting local communities. Interested in free resources? It’s not too late to join in the National Small Business Week Virtual Summit (peep the link here).

Hot off the SMB press this week: 

  • A process template for dealing with customer escalations.
  • Plus, customer service tips for helping the angry, the frustrated, and the dissatisfied.
  • How to avoid the common traps that make it difficult to learn from failure.


Template of the week: Customer Escalations Process

Customer Escalations Process template banner.

As a small business leader, you know that delivering quality products and services is of paramount importance to staying competitive. But, mistakes happen, and problems can arise — especially when you’re trying new strategies, developing your products, and adding to your services in an effort to scale. Enter the raging customer — ready to throw hands at your precious, hard-working customer service team. 

Truth be told, handling customer escalations is easier said than done. But the good news is it’s not so bad when you have a repeatable process for customer communication and problem-solving. Ensuring that every customer gets the exact same options and solutions with a smiling face. 

👉 Snag the Customer Escalations Process template that tells your team everything they need to know about preventing those dreaded customer meltdowns and de-escalating situations where need be. All it needs is your personal touch and it’s ready to share with your team.

Can’t wait a whole week for your next template? Check out our entire template archive of free, multimedia-enhanced, and customizable policy, process, and role starters.


Top tips for helping angry, frustrated customers

Crowd of angry birds.

If you snagged our Customer Escalations template, it’s likely you’ve dealt with an angry customer or two.
Sometimes, it’s our fault; sometimes, it’s not. Whatever the reason, as business leaders, we know the importance of putting in the extra effort to make these customers happy — mostly because customer satisfaction is one of the most important drivers of business success. 

Makes sense: Happy customers will typically become repeat ones, and consumers who are particularly pleased will sing your praises to the masses. Frustrated and angry customers will have the opposite effect (we’ve all seen those Yelp reviews).

And it doesn’t help that there’s been a recent uptick in dissatisfaction amongst consumers.
According to the National Customer Rage Survey, 74% of American consumers reported having issues with a company’s product or service in 2022, up from 66% in 2020. And businesses are dealing with a rising wave of frustration and anger from customers — 43% of whom reported raising their voices when making complaints to companies.

Meaning, you’ll need a strong team of customer service representatives (CSRs) to appease customers while delivering solutions. Plus, a well-trained team can even save you money — bad customer service is costing U.S. companies an estimated $494B.

So, how can your CSRs keep customers satisfied? 
We asked that very question of Trainual’s own customer experience team — who can boast a Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) of 97.5 (out of 100!) — and here’s what they had to say:

  1. Speak with confidence. When a customer comes to your CSR with a question, they don’t want to hear any hemming or hawing about potential solutions. They need a fix, and your CSRs need to prove that they’re the right person to come to for a solution.
  2. Be real. Customer service is still a human-to-human interaction — but when customers have to speak with a person who doesn’t seem to care about their issues, it’s straight-up demoralizing. Treating customers like people (as opposed to a check off the to-do list) goes a long way to fostering a productive conversation.

👉 Find more tips — including the one quality every CSR needs.


How to learn the right lessons from failure

Pop quiz! Do you remember what we talked about last week? (Hint: You became a novice psychic of sorts.)

Umm… I already forgot what I had for breakfast this morning…
Allow us to refresh your memory! We talked about premortem analyses — AKA, asking and answering “What could go wrong?” before implementing your business strategies. And what ten steps will make your strategy stronger and help you avoid planning biases.  

But let’s talk about the tough pill to swallow: failure — and no matter how much you prepare, sometimes it happens. So, the ability to learn from failure is essential for your future success — no matter what stage your business is in.

When we analyze our failures, we have to strive towards enabling real improvement — which simply can’t be done when we just fixate on mistakes. That’s why we’ve got to be careful to not fall into these three common traps:

Trap 1: We don’t notice when seemingly good outcomes are driven by bad processes.
Let’s just say some of your employees are performing well below their peers. So, you decide to analyze what they’re doing and how it might be resulting in failures. Not a bad start, sure, but it certainly shouldn’t be the end of your investigation.

If you’re only analyzing your low performers, it’ll be difficult to understand what’s really driving success. For that, you’ll have to look to your high performers and the processes they’re using.

The most important piece here: Take a look at what processes your low and high performers are using. If you see any trends or overlaps, it’s a good sign your team needs to establish a set of best practices. When you can control how your team carries out important processes (adjusting over time as needed), you’re able to reinforce more successful outcomes.

👉 Peep the other two traps.


This week's highlight reel

  • Having fun isn’t hard…” when your whole team can request access to the company knowledge, processes, and policies that matter to them most — using Trainual’s all-new content library. Now, every employee can see “Company,” “Policies,” and “Process” pages on the left menu and explore the extra training you have to offer (no matter what permissions they have). Publish content libraries in your account today in Advanced settings! New to Trainual? Try for free.
  • Bed Bath & Beyond’s trash is somebody else’s treasure — notably, their competition. While the bankrupt company will no longer accept their own iconic blue-and-white coupons, The Container Store and Big Lots are both offering discounts to customers who bring in their expired coupons. BRB, have to go dig our BB&B coupons out of the garbage.
  • Target not acquired. If you advertise with Meta, chances are you’ve seen their recent changes to their location targeting — AKA, their removal of location options. The change won’t affect most, but there could be repercussions for businesses like home services and tourism advertisements that rely on specific location requirements. Fingers crossed that the mysterious algorithm comes through.
  • And the Grammy goes to… Drake and The Weeknd, AI-edition. The viral track “Heart on My Sleeve” was developed using the AI versions of the artists’ voices, proving yet again the seemingly limitless potential of AI technology. It’s since been removed from streaming services, but we’re still making it the song of the summer, right?

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