Success as a truck broker involves learning some basic business skills, and one of the most important ones is knowing how to deal with an angry customer. So here are some tips for what to do when this situation comes along:

1. Don’t take it personal – Most of the time an angry person isn’t upset with you directly; it’s the situation that has them worked up. Understanding this will help you to remain calm during the conversation, no matter what the other person says.

2. Listen – Most of us can hear pretty well, but listening is far more than just that. It means paying attention to the other person and carefully noting what they say in order to understand the real cause of their anger.

3. Empathize – This means putting yourself in their shoes, so you can appreciate why they’re angry. What if you were the driver whose load that was cancelled at the last minute? How would you feel if you had backlogged freight that no one wanted to haul? Ask yourself questions like these during the encounter.

4. Tell them you empathize – This is just as important as step number three. Saying something like “Wow, I’d be mad too if that happened to me!” moves you from an adversarial relationship with the customer to a sympathetic one. This alone can go a long way to relieving the tension and working out the problem.

5. Express regret, but don’t apologize if you’re not at fault – If the issue the person is complaining about is due to a mistake you made, then own up to it by admitting your role. On the other hand, sometimes customers have unreasonable expectations; you can’t control everything that might go wrong with a shipment. But you can always say “I’m sorry that happened to you.”

6. Take ownership – Everyone hates being passed off to another person or department, and as a small business owner your ability to pass the buck is extremely limited. So whether you’re at fault or not, assume the role of problem-solver right away. You can say something like this: “Tell you what, let’s get this issue resolved right now,” then start discussing ways to fix the problem.

7. Ask probing questions – Sometimes a customer says they’re upset about one thing when in reality, the true cause of their anger is something else entirely. In such a case you need to find out what the root problem is so it can be prevented in the future. Here’s an example: you get a call from a supplier who is angry because a driver hasn’t picked up their load yet. You ask how late the trucker is, and the supplier says, “Five minutes, but that’s not the point! He should have called if he wasn’t going to be on time!” By asking a simple question you find out that the person is angry because they feel disrespected, not because the driver is running a few minutes behind. You can then deal with the real issue that has them worked up.

8. Get the person’s consent to a plan of action – In the example above, you might say, “tell you what: I’ll speak with the driver myself, and make sure he understands that he is to call you from now on if he isn’t going to be there right on time. Does that work for you?” Getting the customer to agree to your plan of action is important for moving from a confrontational situation to a cooperative one.

9. End the call on a positive note if at all possible – Once an agreement is reached, tell the customer how much you appreciate their business and ask him or her if you can do anything else. Then, make certain that you follow up on the agreement you made with them.

Of course, the best way to deal with angry customers is to provide such great service that you never have one in the first place. TruckingOffice software gives you the tools you need to do just that, by managing pickup and delivery schedules, invoicing, fuel tax reporting, and every other aspect of a freight brokerage service. Contact us today; we’d be glad to show you how we can help your business run smoother and more profitably than ever before!

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