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4 Ways to Deal with Angry Customers During the Holiday Season

Oct 20, 2022

A couple having a happy shopping experience during the holidays

It may be referred to in a song as “the most wonderful time of the year” — but it’s safe to say that the singer probably never worked in retail during the holidays. And while we do agree that this time of year really can be wonderful in terms of sales, holiday shopping stress can take a toll on customers as well as businesses. As a result, your staff will likely deal with customers who become upset — or downright angry — for any number of reasons.  

Does your company have a plan in place to handle those types of encounters, or do you just take things as they come? If the latter, you’re doing your team a disservice. Without a plan to manage issues or customer pain points during the rush, you run the risk of small issues escalating into something more serious. Understanding how to prepare and execute customer management before the season starts will help lead angry customers and stressed employees back to a path of peace and goodwill. Read on for effective pro tips to help you do just that. 

Prepare Before the Rush 

To quote Alexander Graham Bell, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” It’s especially true in the retail world when planning for the annual holiday rush. Having established procedures in place will help to alleviate the extra stress of your business’s daily tasks as well as prepare you to deal with demanding customers.  

For example, think of where current pain points exist and mend them as soon as possible. Look for bumps in the road that could lead to bigger issues, then devise a preemptive strategy to mitigate them. If you don’t already have them, consider FAQ pages on your websites, support systems for social media, and overall training for service representatives on how to handle customer complaints (whether in person, on the phone and online).  

Understand and  Support Your Staff’s  Needs 

It’s no surprise that the holiday retail season returns every year, and it’s most likely your busiest time of the year. So there’s no excuse not to be prepared, to learn from past successes and failures, and have procedures in place to support your sales staff and other team members before the season begins. 


As soon as you can, take inventory of your team and its potential needs during this time. Once you understand who is currently on the team and what their bandwidth is, it’s common — and more importantly, beneficial — to consider staffing up with seasonal employees to help with the surge in customers. An overwhelmed staffer and an unhappy customer do not make a good mix.  

With this plan, you’re caring for your staff just as much as your customers. Preventing your team from being stretched too thin during an already stressful time is a gesture that will be appreciated and rewarded with hard work the rest of the year. It’s also important to help them find ways to balance daily tasks (which never take a day off) with any unprecedented events that happen during the holiday season.  

Focus on Positive Problem-Solving  

Even with the best-laid plans in place, dealing with upset customers during the holidays will likely be inevitable. So training your team on how to solve a customer’s problem quickly and efficiently in the moment will save everyone time and energy.  

 One of the most effective strategies is to keep the focus on the main issue, then follow whatever steps are necessary to keep the customer moving forward. When there is a lack of focus or predetermined steps to help lead the team, small issues can needlessly escalate into a much bigger problem that could have been avoided.  

Practice Sympathy and Understanding 

An angry customer can be trying to work with, especially if the customer’s issue is something that’s out of your service team’s control. But trying to explain your side of things may only end up sounding like excuses and reasons not to help them, making that customer even angrier. The first step in these situations is to remember the golden rule: Treat the customer how you would want to be treated.   

To start winning that customer over is to be sympathetic to their concerns and ensure they know you are listening to them. Never make them feel like a burden and remind them that you appreciate their patience and feedback. Make sure to do everything possible to accommodate the customer within reason and offer alternate solutions if the first steps do not work as planned. Again, quickly and efficiently working with the customer will help calm their emotions and allow you to more easily find a solution.  

Let Acima Leasing Help Eliminate Shopping Stress 

Preparing for both the holiday rush and dealing with angry customers can be stressful, to say the least. On the other hand, not doing so can lead to worse problems and hurt your bottom line as a result. Having a plan in place will minimize that stress and set both your team and the customer up for greater success.

One plan that may help is to offer Acima Leasing to customers who may be frustrated with limited choices when trying to shop for the holidays. With Acima Leasing, businesses can work with financially fragile customers and provide them with flexible lease-to-own solutions* that will help you both get through the holiday season (and any time of year, really) with less financial and emotional stress. And that’s a wonderful thing!