(Very) Long shipping times, problems at the borders, packages stuck in airports, or even defective or subpar products. These are the main problems clients and eCommerce owners face nowadays, as the world faces its biggest pandemic since the Spanish Flu. How can you handle unhappy clients, who are sick of waiting? How can you turn them on your side? Here are some valuable tips you can use.

1. Take a deep breath and…refrain from reacting, at first

Your client is bashing you and your business, demands the product or his money back. You feel unhappy, maybe a little furious as sometimes it’s not even your fault. In order not to make any mistakes in the answer you’re going to give your client, you need to step back for a little. Listen and put yourself in his or her shoes–it makes a difference. Most people want to react, but the most important thing is to fully understand the problem and see it from the customer’s point of view before reacting. It’s easy to truly care about them. And once you truly care about them, it’s a lot easier to solve their problem. —Dan Price, Gravity Payments.

2. Assess the “weight” of the complaint

From the very beginning, try to weigh the severity of the issue.

While it is important to listen to all customer complaints, acknowledge that some customers will never truly be satisfied.

“Some customers might have a proclivity for complaining about trivial matters, while others might have legitimate problems that require fixing or an apology,” says Sathvik Tantry of FormSwift. “Assessing the frequency and weight of complaints is a must.”

Listen to any complaints, apologize, and do your best to rectify a customer’s problem, but understand that some customers may be experiencing greater issues than others.

This means that you’ll have to prioritize and determine the weight of each complaint you receive before you make a decision as to how to proceed.

3. Start a dialogue with the customer

We are all familiar with the idea of constructive criticism, but we generally think of it in the context of advice from a mentor or other higher up, rather than customers.

Can complaints be constructive?

Ty Morse of Songwhale says yes. “Consumer criticism is an excellent source of ideas to improve a product,” he says. “Instead of shying away from consumer complaints or getting defensive, respond personally to the customer and ask them to help you make the product better.”

Not only will this help you potentially make improvements to your products or services, it can create an open dialogue with your customers and strengthen the relationship.

“In some circumstances, you might even ask them to join your beta tests as you keep working to improve your product,” says Ty.

4. Answer personally, but don’t take it personally

Addressing a customer’s concerns in a personalized manner doesn’t have to mean taking all criticism too personally.

“We try not to put too much stock into a single customer complaint, and we remind ourselves that their dissatisfaction with our product or company doesn’t reflect on us as individuals,” says Alexander Moore of Boomerang.

Do your best to fix a customer issue without letting their unhappiness get to you personally. While this is easier said than done, dealing with the situation in a professional manner and not taking the criticism personally may enable you to turn the situation around—and potentially win back an unhappy customer.

“Addressing the customer’s complaint by solving the issue or at least providing an explanation has turned angry customers into evangelists for us,” says Alexander.

5. Apologize and show empathy

The best way of dealing with an angry customer is to be honest and apologize. When you admit the mistake and show the customer that you are very sorry about the situation, you can change their attitude in your favor. People appreciate honesty and an apology is often the result they were hoping for.

According to Carey School of Business, people were twice as likely to forgive a company that apologized on top of compensation. Explain to the customer that this is not a common issue and that you are working on a resolution.

You will need to go above and beyond to make up for the error, by being extra attentive to the unhappy customer.

Be courteous and offer a resolution that might make up for the mistake.

Make sure you put yourself in the customer’s shoes to see if you feel you have been acknowledged acceptably. By feeling empathy for your customer’s situation, you naturally understand how you should respond.

In the same way that empathy is a fundamental aspect of everyday relationships that people have, it plays a vital part in customer-company relationships. It might be a case of acknowledging that other customers have experienced a similar issue,or perhaps the agent has experienced that particular issue before in other situations.

6. Be personal

Treat your customer like an individual, address them by name and show that you know their details by having any previous interaction or order history at hand. There are great benefits to be extracted from providing a personalized experience.

The short-term benefit of personalization is that transaction rates increase six times with personalized emails. The long-terms benefit is the customer loyalty that springs from having a great experience.

Making a personal experience is not just a matter of being polite—it makes your customer feel happy. Not only that, but they will recognize you as another human being, rather than a nameless entity from an elusive company.

7. Rebuild trust

Christine Comaford, an expert on persuasive language has devised a formula for creating trust.

The equation is: safety + belonging + esteem = trust

In order to gain the trust of an angry customer, you can put this equation into action. Increase the customer’s status or esteem by giving them an element of control over the situation. You can do this by simply asking for their help to resolve the issue. Show that they are important to you and an integral part of your community by recognizing their individual needs and knowing their order history. Aim for a first-time resolution if possible. Ensure you provide a comprehensive response for effective results.

Be honest with your customer and stay true to your company’s identity. Build a level of transparency to establish authenticity and a mutual trust with your customer. Transparency will help you and your agents to communicate with more confidence.

8. Offer clear explanations and be honest

When a customer alerts you to a problem, your primary goal will likely be to solve it in a minimal amount of time.

And that’s great!

But you should also aim to offer a clear explanation of why that problem occurred. This step often only takes a few extra seconds but can help the customer better understand what went wrong and eliminate any concerns about whether it will be a recurring issue.

9. Resolve the issue plus go that extra mile to make him happy

You can always turn a negative situation into a positive one, when you show you’re committed to finding a resolution as quickly as possible. If you are unable to do so, be honest and admit this to the angry customer. Assign an agent who is more qualified to deal with the problem, if you can do that.

In order to make your client happy, you should not only solve the issue he came with to you, but offer something extra – perhaps a 10% off his next buy, a coupon or, if your margin is high enough, cut something from the actual order he’s complaining about.

10. Customers are people. Remember it.

Finally, it’s essential to keep in mind throughout all of your interactions that your customers are people. Now, this might sound obvious. But when a customer writes a negative review or complains about an issue, it’s easy to see them as a problem to be resolved instead of a person to be helped. And that mindset is unlikely to help you provide excellent support.

So every time a customer reaches out, remember that they’re a real person with a real problem, and do your best to fully resolve their issue. This will not only make your interactions go more smoothly, but will also make you more effective in providing genuinely helpful solutions — and, as a result, winning back unhappy customers.