As a call center representative, you will come across angry callers on a daily basis. How you handle these interactions can ether lead to a successful resolution of their issue or losing the customer forever. It’s important to provide your call center agents with the proper tools, training and call center software to help them handle difficult customer personalities with grace.
The following five techniques can help to calm the caller, enhance the productiveness of the call, decrease handle times and increase customer service quality.
Step 1: Listen
You can usually determine whether or not the caller is angry within the first few seconds of a call. When you come across an angry caller, it is important to simply listen to them before trying to defuse the situation. The caller may just want to vent his frustration. Sometimes, after a caller is given the chance to express displeasure, they will apologize and allow you to solve the problem with no further anger.
While the caller is speaking, it may be helpful to jot down the major points of their problem on your notepad. Angry callers tend to go on tangents. Keeping notes will help you to find an answer to the problem more efficiently and will also allow you to maintain your focus.
If the caller is threatening you, using violent language or swearing, follow your company’s policy guidelines for handling difficult customers. If your guidelines allow you to end the call when they cross the line, by all means, end the call right away.
Step 2: Remain Calm
It is important to stay calm during a call to prevent the situation from escalating. Here are a few tips to try:
- Focus on using an even tone while you speak. Using an agitated or angry tone will simply infuriate the caller even more.
- Remember that the customer isn’t angry at you. It is the situation that is making the caller angry.
- Put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if this happened to you? Having a little bit of empathy for the caller can go a long way.
- Take a few deep breaths to calm your nerves while the caller is talking.
Step 3: Repeat Information
When the angry caller has finished talking, it is important to make them feel as if you are on their side. One way to do this is to apologize about the problem, convey empathy and then summarize their main points. Doing so will not only make the caller feel you are listening to them, it will also give them a few moments to calm down. You may be surprised at how much calmer they are when they start talking again.
Step 4: Avoid the Hold Button
Many customer service representatives will put an angry caller on hold, believing that the hold time will allow them a moment to calm down. Actually, the opposite is true. The hold time will add to the caller’s frustration, escalating the situation.
Some callers believe that hold time allows representatives to talk rudely without being heard. Others believe that they are put on hold so that the representative doesn’t have to deal with the problem. While this may not be true, while on hold, a caller’s imagination will have plenty of time to think up negative reasons for why they are on hold.
Instead of putting the caller on hold while you research the problem, talk to them. Let them know exactly what you are doing to solve their problem. For example,
“It seems to me that you may have a billing error. I’m pulling up your bill, Ms. Jones, and taking a look. I see that you were billed on the first of the month and the payment was made automatically through your credit card. You said you changed your method of payment, so now I am going to take a look at the notes on your account to see when that change was made.”
Talking to your angry customer will help to calm them as they will feel you care enough to guide them through the entire process.
Step 5: Make the Caller Happy
Once you have researched the problem, it is time to take action. Below are tips to help make the callers happy:
Give them options
Giving your callers options to resolve their issue will make them feel more in control. Be sure to not only tell your customer what their options are, but also how soon each option can be implemented. A lack of control can enrage the customer even further.
Offer a refund or voucher
If your company policy allows, offer them a refund or voucher. It can go a long way in showing that you are sorry and that you appreciate their business.
Go the extra mile
Before ending the call, ask the caller if there is anything else you can help them with. Going the extra mile can make them feel more appreciated.
Make them smile
Finally, compliment them on being patient or tell a joke to lighten the mood. If you can put smile on their face before you end the call, you are an all-star agent.
Handling angry callers are part of the job at any call center. Knowing how to deal with these challenging interactions effectively can go a long way in improving the customer’s experience with you and your company. Listening, staying calm, repeating information, avoiding the hold button and making your caller’s happy are all essential when you have an angry caller on the line. Employing these techniques will not only allow you to help the customer, but will also improve customer satisfaction and reduce handle times.