How to Deal with Angry Live Chat Customers

07 Jul 2020 By: Shelby Shaffer


I remember growing up; my mom always would say, “Shelby, what is the Golden Rule?” I’d giggle and blush (or if called on bad behavior, I’d cross my arms and mumble) “The Golden Rule is to treat others how you want to be treated.”

I’m sure you were taught something similar. It’s synonymous with “treat others with respect” or “do onto others…” and often accompanied by “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

The same lessons we teach children from a young age should be held to the highest standards for our customer support representatives. No customer wants to feel insignificant or duped by some schmuck sitting in a call center miles away. 

That’s why the best customer service reps are those who understand customer psychology and emotional intelligence. They can navigate a conversation without triggering the customer and creating a negative experience. 

Angry live chat customers can be challenging to serve. With the help and understanding of customer psychology, any live chat service representative can help take a negative situation and create a positive experience. 

Customer’s Expectations

No matter what industry you’re serving, your customers have high expectations for the customer service you should be providing. Customers want answers and solutions immediately. They don’t want to wait for hours or even days to return their calls or emails.  

If you’re relying on an answering machine or email to support all your customers, you’re living in the Dark Ages! Almost 60% of customers will hang up after just one minute on hold with a call center, and customers will only tolerate waiting 15 minutes to 1 hour for their call to be returned. 

Today, it’s all about live chat customer support. It’s a direct communication method that allows customers to connect instantly with the support staff who is ready to help customers with whatever they need whenever they need it. When customers have to wait for their questions to be answered, it leaves them angry and mistrusting of the business they’re waiting on. 

In recent years, customers have grown to love using live chat customer support. It’s fast, it’s personalized, and it’s EASY! In fact, live chat customer support has a 73% satisfaction score among consumers. 

But what about those angry customers? They come into your chat software like an angry hornet, ready to sting the sorry representative assigned to them. This is when reps need to stay cool, calm, and collected to effectively and efficiently get to the root of the problem. 

Customer Service Psychology

Customer service is so much more than a purchase and potentially follow-up support. What makes a customer a life-long customer and an advocate for your business is the psychology behind the customer experience. 

Ideally, you want every customer to walk away from their purchase, or any interaction with your brand, feeling positive. But the reality is that this isn’t always the case. Since you can only control how you and your team respond to customers, you can only account for 50% of the conversation. BUT that 50% can set the tone for how the customer will feel walking away. 

What is Customer Service Psychology?

Customer service psychology requires you to have a good understanding of the range of customer behaviors and emotions. Like anyone, customer’s emotions can switch at the drop of a hat, so it’s essential to recognize triggers for these situations. 

Customers can feel triggered when you use a particular language and ask them to hold or transfer them too often during their support interactions.  When a customer comes into your business, their first impression of you matters. Every customer service interaction and touchpoint also matters. Recognize that the actions you take or do not take, speaks volumes to customers. (Nextiva). 

Emotional Intelligence and Customer Service

Psychology Today says “Emotional intelligence is generally said to include at least three skills: emotional awareness, or the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions; the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes both regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and helping others to do the same.”

Understanding emotional intelligence and managing the emotions of your incoming customers will help you keep your customer support space productive and positive, allowing customers to feel relaxed and secure during the process. Ensuring that all prospective live agent job candidates possess high emotional intelligence is key. 

5 Tips for Dealing with Angry Live Chat Customers 

Using what we know about emotional intelligence, we’ve got some tips based on emotional intelligence to help YOU deal with frustrated or angry live chat customers. 

Don’t Let Them Wait.

First and foremost important rule, NEVER make your customers wait more than a minute or so. The longer they sit, the more they’ll feel forgotten about or dismissed. In fact, 70% of retailers report consumers will wait 5 minutes or less before a customer abandons a purchase. (TimeTrade) For live chat, however, that wait time is only 45 seconds

Customer: “I ordered cookware from your website, and when they arrived in the mail, they were scratched. Can I return them for a new set? (2:34 pm)

Customer Service Rep: Hi Matt!… (2:35 pm)

No matter how long they wait, the perceived wait time always feels longer than the wait time. For customers, how long a wait seems is more meaningful than what the wait time actually is. For safe measures, it’s best not to make the customer wait at all if possible. If that’s not possible, we suggest a customer service time countdown so customers can have an accurate estimation of wait time, instead of letting their perceived wait time discourage them from reaching out. 

Make it Personal 

Everyone loves a personal touch. Whether it’s remembering a name, or discussing the specifics of their purchase, it’s nice to feel recognized by a business. 

Studies show that customers find transparency and personalized service make waiting more tolerable for the customer. When a customer can see typing bubbles and a more personalized message, they tend to value the service more and are willing to wait longer. Even having the mere appearance that something is personalized makes customers think that the product or service will be “worth the wait.” (Fonolo)

Customer: “I ordered cookware from your website, and when they arrived in the mail, they were scratched. Can I return them for a new set?

Customer Service Rep: Hi Matt! I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. I’m sure you were very excited to cook with your new equipment. Of course I can help! First, can you send me a picture of the scratch? I see here your order number was 238490, and you ordered our Premium Ceramic 12 Piece Set (Blue). Is correct?

Customer:Yes, I ordered the ceramic set in blue, here is my picture. The scratch is on the side. 

Customer Service Rep: I see, yes that is quite a scratch! No worries. I will email you a prepaid shipping label, feel free to reuse the original shipping box if you still have it. Otherwise, you’ll have a new set by the end of the week. Is there anything else I can help you with today?

With some live chat customer support software, customer information is easily accessible. This allows any customer support rep to find a name, purchase information, or any previous chat history, so customers feel remembered and appreciated. 

Identify and Repeat Needs

Customers want to be heard. They have a problem, and they want to know you, as a business, understand their pain points. When a customer chats with your support team, it’s best for the agent handling that ticket to repeat the problem back to confirm understanding and to clarify any missed details or information.

Listen to your customers and refrain from repeatedly asking them, “What do you want?” Show that you respect them by taking the time and using insights to “get to know them.” If a customer can’t identify his or her own needs, it’s crucial that support reps can ask discovery questions to arrive at a solution. 

Deliver Emotion 

Emotion can have a significant impact on how a customer is leaving his or her experience with you. Your team should be able to relate to their feelings, show empathy for their situation, and sympathize with their pain. 

But it doesn’t have to only be negative emotions. Being able to use humor or excitement towards the customer is a great way to bring the conversation to a high note, and improve the overall experience. Humor is a great connecting emotion for most people, so connecting on a more positive side will help the customer feel less anxious or angry about the situation. 

Follow Up

Always, always, ALWAYS follow up with every single customer who chats with your support team. Even if they’re canceling their services with you or returning a product, you should ALWAYS follow up to make sure all their needs were met, and they have applied the agreed-upon solution. Sometimes, it’s not until after their experience that customers realize they have more questions. Follow-ups can shine a light on these situations and resolve any residual issues. 

Customer Service Rep: Hi Matt, I’m just following up from our conversation last week. Did you receive your new cookware set? 

Customer: Hi, yes I did. Thank you for making the exchange easy. 

Customer Service Rep: Absolutely! We pride ourselves in being responsive to our customers. For your  inconvenience, I want to offer you 10% off your next purchase with us. 

Customers who have returned a product or stopped service with you might still need some support or have questions. It’s okay to be a source of knowledge without having a purchase made. Keep that level of trust with the customer and prove to them he or she was more than a single purchase.

So, treating customers as we would expect to be treated is pretty sound advice. As customers ourselves, we know how frustrating it can be if you are misunderstood, ignored, or taken advantage of. As business owners, employees, or customer service reps, we can stop the cycle of poor customer support. We have the power to make sure that each customer who communicates with us, interacts with us, and purchases from us feel heard and appreciated. 

When we treat customers how we expect to be treated, we can change the game of customer support and reduce the amount of angry live chat customers.