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Your Angry Customer

Have you ever had to deal with an angry customer? Or several? Or many? Who was your angriest customer? What happened? How did you handle it? What was the outcome? What advice do you have?

Please share your thoughts... - by Skip Anderson
We had the rights to distribute in Canada testing software from a US company (tools designed to assist the software development team in assessing their work).

A massive international conglomerate (with NA head office in Ottawa and development in NB) acquired a small US-based company. During the "shake-out" of the acquistion, we were contacted by the client's develpment team in New Brunswick that they were going to be requiring complex, dedicated support along with a proposal to acquire more "seats". As I got into the topic, it became apparent that the client's legal department had made a HUGE assumption about the rights to software licenses which were held by the company which they'd acquired.

The internal planning was so far down the road that they'd been involved with conceptual proprosals to a number of clients in Asia. The implied revenues were in the hundreds of millions as the application had to do with load balancing for cable companies as "pay-per-view" was a fledling topic over there.

When I informed the VP in N.B., he was extremely professional in his reaction but there was no mistaking that this would not be taken lightly. I worked with him to re-submit his budget but the cost of the licenses was simply not allocated in the initial project plan.

I worked diligently with the supplier (everyone from General Counsel to the President). In the middle of the adventure, we'd worked out a 50% discount and arranged for support to get the project off the ground. However, it still represented over $127K of un-budgetted funds.

At the time, there were only two of us working in this time zone (our H.O. was in Vancouver). The client needed to work through his offices in the Netherlands, so, we had a few time zones to accommodate! Purchasing (Ottawa) called in August to say that he had a P.O. for on his desk but it was for well less than necessary) ...

It was getting virtually impossible to keep the exec's at our US supplier happy, "... someone's gettin' thrown under the bus for this one ..."!

We put an absolute priority on EVERY single line item promised to the client and kept our stakeholder in N.B. intimately informed. Finally, P.O. was ready after a full year.

Interestingly, I got stiffed for the commission on the largest single transaction in the company's history. Go figure ...

Good luck & Good selling!
Pat - by OUTSource Sales
My angriest client actually turned into someone who referred a friend who wrote a personal check to my compnay for 6 million dollars.

'Bob' in Boston joined our program (fractional ownership of learjet's). His first 3 flying experiences were disasters. Mechanicals, weather...you name it, it happened. He missed an important board meeting because of the plane being late.

He had 2 close friends in the program who had not had any serrvice issues. That made it worse. he thought we were singling him out.

He was going to sue, take out a full page ad in the WSJ saying we didn't deliver on promises, etc.

I escalated this quickly to senior management. For the next 6 months, every time he had a flight we sent 2 planes. If 1 had an issue, the other one was there.

After about a year, he hadn't had any other issues, wrote us a great testimonnial and referred a friend who became an owner--the 6 million dollar check.

Bbottom line is--don't run away from customer issues. Take wonership early and see it through. it will gain you endless customer loyalty.

Susan - by susana
Thanks for the great story Susana. Who else has an "angry customer" story? - by Skip Anderson
A couple years ago an angry customer showed up at a presentation we were doing, A few minutes before it was to begin she stepped up in front of the room and got everyone's attention. Immediately a few people stepped up to silence her, to have her removed. Sensing potential conflict and the dynamics that could trigger I stepped up and said: "Let her speak." and turning to her said, "Go ahead and say what's on your mind. We have to begin in a few minutes so get to the point."

She began to speak in an angry and wild eyed tone of voice critical of the products, the business we're in, and making it a personal attack on someone sitting there. After a couple minutes she paused - once again a couple people stepped up to silence her.

"Hold on - let here continue. We have a few minutes yet." and turning again to her I said, "Go ahead and finish up. Is there anything else you need to say?"

Once again she began venting and in another minute was done - she just ran out of things to say.

"Okay, we have to get started now. You may leave now so we can get going and I'd be happy to speak with you after our presentation if you want."

After the presentation she was gone never to return and the mood of the people there was one of confidence in us and "what a sad person that was."

MitchM - by MitchM
I've never had to "dodge" veggies from the crowd or deflect someone so bold as to walk to the stage!!

You provided her with a release, she took the opportunity, and "ran out of gas".

During the sales cycle, objections are frequently handled by ignoring them. If there's substance, you can always handle it but if they're blowin' wind, you can continue your presentation unabated ...

Good luck and Good selling!
Pat - by OUTSource Sales
Have you ever had to deal with an angry customer? Or several? Or many? Who was your angriest customer? What happened? How did you handle it? What was the outcome? What advice do you have?

Please share your thoughts...
I had a customer venting about the company I worked for ("what a bunch of morons..." e.g.).

How did I handle it? I just let him keep on venting while I typed in his order (the average order was $95, that one left for $190). - by Wonderboy
I had a guy who had made one $20 payment on a $170 Impact wrench.

When after a month of no payments I repossesed the tool he asked me what he was supposed to do and told me he needed the tool to do his job.

I replied "Not my problem, if you can make up the missed payments today you can keep the tool."

He then called me a pr*ck.

I said "Let me get this straight, I took back MY tool because YOU didn't make YOUR payments and I'M the pr*ck? Think you got that one backwards son."

He then told me "I'll never buy anything from you again!"

I said, "We'll you sure got THAT one right," and walked off to the laughter of his co-workers.

Pat - by toolguy_35
Have you ever had to deal with an angry customer? Or several? Or many? Who was your angriest customer? What happened? How did you handle it? What was the outcome? What advice do you have?

Please share your thoughts...
Whilst not my angriest, one of my personal favourites goes like this...

On the particular day my staff member approached a customer who attempted to grab a broucher. She offered nothing more then a "can I help you" when the gentlemen snapped claiming all he wanted was the broucher.

He continued to read it in front of us for a good 5 minutes (our brouchers aren't that detailed) when she attempted again to be of some service, asking "is there something you were looking for in particular" when he went off his rocker. Swearing and carrying on, claiming if he wanted help he'd ask.

My staff member quickly rushed away and got a bit emotional when I (the manager) decided to step in. Basically I walked up to him and told him never to ****ing speak to my staff like that when they were only being of service in a non-pushy manner and then told him to get out of my face because I don't want his business.

He attempted to justify his actions which I reminded him of his rudeness and unacceptable manner to treat another human being... to which he left.

30 minutes later he returned from one of the fancy chocolate shops near us bearing gifts and apologised. - by MrCharisma
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