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Got an angry customer? These 3 words will win them back…

By Brett Lloyd Abbott, Pool Builder Marketing LLC

AngryandHappyClients.jpgOne of the newest classes I’ve started teaching is called “Winning Customer Satisfaction…How to Win Your Clients’ Hearts and Wallets.” It runs a full hour, but I can give you the essence of it in the next three minutes.

I don’t have to explain how important online reviews are, because you already know that. And you already know that referrals are a wonderful thing, if you can get them. What you might not know is how to convert an angry, seething, spittle-projecting customer into a loyal and understanding fan.

Hard to believe I learned this trick nearly 30 years ago, when I was still working in the high-tech corporate world. I vivdly remember the day I attended this company-sponsored class, and how powerful the lesson was.


The first thing the instructor did was explain that there would be no “Yeah, But’s…” in the class.

And to prove it, he walked over to the whiteboard and wrote “Yeah, But…” as a heading, and proceeded to document every single time anyone in the classroom offered any sort of excuse that might be considered “Yeah, But…” And my oh my, did those Yeah-But’s add up fast!

Here’s the concept – when someone is angry about something, they want to vent to someone. Preferably to the person they think is responsible, or at least the person who might do something about it. They want:

  • To be HEARD
  • To feel IMPORTANT
  • To WIN
  • To be HAPPY

Unfortunately, when someone complains to us, especially in an angry or attacking fashion, we want to defend ourselves. We will usually:

  • Avoid the situation.
  • Deny the problem.
  • Make excuses.
  • Shift the blame to someone else.
  • And/or use the ultimate Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free-Card: “Yeah, But…”

For example:

“You said your crew would be here this morning.”
“Yeah, but we ran long on another job.”

“My pool is dirty!”
“Yeah, but it was clean when I left.”

“Hey, this isn’t what I ordered!”
“Yeah, but we’re all out of what you ordered.”

1StarReviews.jpgWhen we respond to any complaint with a “Yeah, But…” excuse, it tells the other person “I don’t care; it’s not my fault; I have an excuse, and therefore I’m not going to do anything about it. You lose, I win.”

Of course, this just makes the customer angrier, and that much more likely to give us an ugly one-star review. They feel cheated and misunderstood, and quite frankly, they think you’re an idiot.

So here are the three magic words that can turn that situation around for you:

“Yes, You’re Right.”

The minute you tell the other person they’re right, you begin to defuse the situation. It instantly tells them, “You aren’t going to have to fight me for this. I want YOU to win.”

Now sometimes a single “Yes, you’re right” won’t be enough. (Partly because they’re not sure they should believe you.) So you say it several times, in several different ways. For example:

“Yes, you’re right. The crew was supposed to be there this morning, and they didn’t make it. We made a promise to you, and we failed. They ran into complications on the previous job, but that’s still no excuse. I’m sorry that we let you down.”

And here’s the amazing thing – when you say the same thing (“Yes, you’re right”) five different times, in five different ways, they will be overwhelmingly convinced that you “get it” and are on their side. At that point, they will actually stop you from groveling, and move on towards the solution, which is all you really wanted anyway.

By the way – I see this as DIFFERENT from the “The Customer Is Always Right” philosophy.

You do NOT have to give the customer whatever they want.

But if you want to end/avoid the fight, you at least need to acknowledge that they are right to feel the way they feel.

Now here’s a little bonus tip that I probably never would have recognized if the original instructor from 30-odd years ago hadn’t admitted so blatantly in the class. He said he taught a variety of different “How to get along” classes, such as:

“Winning Customer Satisfaction”
“How to Communicate with Your Children”
“How to Stay Married Forever”
“How to Get along with Your Boss”
“How to Make Your Employees Love You.”

He said every one of those classes taught the exact same concept:

You’ve got to learn how to say “Yes, You’re Right.”

So the next time your client or employee or boss or spouse or children or neighbors get angry with you, and you feel yourself ready to respond with “Yeah, but…” try responding with “Yes, You’re Right…” and see what happens.

To your success…

Brett Lloyd Abbott
Head Guru at Pool Builder Marketing

PS – I recently read an article where they interviewed couples who had been married more than 60 years. One of the most popular and undisputed reasons for long-term marital bliss was based on a what I consider to be a first-cousin to the concept of “Yes, You’re Right.” For long-term marital success, the correct response to any question or request is always: “Yes, My Empress.

(This message is Naomi Abbott approved.) 

2019 Brett Lloyd Abbott / MYM Austin, Inc. May not be used without permission.

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