If you are a small business owner, you know that customer feedback is one of the quickest determinants of success or failure there is. A restaurant that receives bad press and negative reviews on Yelp won’t be open very long, and regardless of your industry you have to take customer service issues very seriously. Of course, you will always run into issues. Even if you have the absolute best product on the market and top notch customer service people, conflicts will arise. You cannot please everyone all of the time, so if something comes up, do not panic. Your best bet is to follow these top five tips for resolving customer conflicts fast, and then move on content that you’ve solved the problem to the best of your ability.

First off, get your irate customer on the phone and listen to every word they have to say. They may shout at you, they may trash your product or service, but whatever they say your job is to listen. Even if it takes ten solid minutes. In most cases, irate customers will calm down significantly once they understand that you are taking them seriously and are willing to listen. So let them get everything they need to say off of their chests, and then acknowledge it by repeating the basics of their complaint back to them. Paraphrase, so they don’t think you are making fun of them, and they’ll know that you understand them.

The second tip is especially necessary after the first one, and that is not to take it too seriously. If it is your business, you might be shocked, hurt or angry by the things your customer has said. Just remember that it is not personal. It’s not a direct attack against you, or your dreams. It is simply one person who was not satisfied with their experience of your company. It is going to happen, and it doesn’t mean you will be out of business tomorrow. Keep it professional, and you’ll move through the unpleasantness must faster.

Once you understand their position, try your best to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. It may be difficult at first, but remain professional and think about how you would feel if you had a similar experience with another company. Would you have been satisfied? Remember that customers have countless choices for where they take their business, and it is up to you to earn theirs. Would your company have earned your business? After you put yourself in their shoes, you’ll be ready to resolve the situation.

The next step is coming up with solutions. That is plural, because you will probably need to come up with more than one. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this right away, ask the customer if it would be okay to call them back with possible solutions. Set up a time, and stick to your word about when you said you would call. Then give your customer a wide range of possible solutions. You could suggest a refund, or a free gift, or some sort of discount on a future purchase. Whatever it is, make sure it addresses their initial problem in a real way.

Finally, follow up with them. Even if they choose a solution right there on the spot and you feel it is resolved, check back in with them a week later. That simple step will show your customer how important their business is, and could end up turning your biggest detractor into your biggest fan. Hopefully that irate customer will now be recommending your company to all of their friends because of how well you handled things, instead of registering on PeopleClaim.com to trash your company further.