If you work in customer service, chances are you’ve had at least one run-in with an angry customer on the phone.
Believe it or not, with the proper tools, it is possible to turn a nasty situation with an angry customer into a positive outcome. As customer service experts, we have dealt with our share of difficult situations. These are our top 10 tips for turning a customer’s frown, upside down.
First up, listen.
In many cases, the customer just needs to get something off of their chest. Giving them the space to talk it out maybe enough to deescalate the situation. Make sure to offer constructive responses and to stay calm, even if the customer is getting heated. Really listening to what they have to say allows you to gain insight into the situation but also show genuine concern for their dissatisfaction.
Validate the problem
Whether the angry customer is in the right or not, they perceive themselves to be. Acknowledging their feelings can help to quickly bring down their emotion. Talking down to a customer or not taking their concerns seriously will only fuel their anger and will not help to resolve the issue.
Keep your emotions out of it
As difficult as it may be, try to keep your emotions low when dealing with an angry customer. You may have heard of the saying, “Emotions high, intelligence low”. When we are speaking from emotion, often we are not speaking rationally. The key is to separate yourself from their emotion. Treat them objectively, as a problem to be solved.
Believe it or not, being pleasant is a skill. The best part is, it is a skill you can practice and master. Speak to yourself in the mirror in a pleasant tone. Respond to friends and family in a practiced tone. Most of all, remember to smile in your responses, which will automatically enhance your telephone tone and demeanour.
Get to the bottom of things
Figuring out what is actually bothering the angry customer will help to level the playing field quickly. Getting to the bottom of their discomfort will allow you to move into problem solving mode and hopefully resolve the issue.
While apologizing for the customer’s dissatisfaction is certainly recommended, offering solutions is also necessary. If possible, provide several options for the customer to consider. Having choice will give them control, which typically diffuses an angry situation quickly.
If possible, avoid putting the customer on hold. Adding additional wait time will only make the situation worse. That said, sometimes you have to confer with others to solve a problem. In such cases, try to keep the customer on the line so they know you are working hard to find a solution.
Trying to solve problems with lies or vague responses will not alleviate the situation. Instead, be clear, tell the truth and admit wrong doing if warranted. It can be tempting to simply tell the angry customer what they want to hear, but that will only lengthen the process. Find a real solution and if you’re unable to resolve it on the phone, find someone that can.
Find a way to relate to the situation
Having empathy for what the customer is going through will allow you to be considered relatable. Even if you don’t have a direct connection to the person or perhaps even the outcome, letting them know you understand their position will go a long way.
Know when to quit
If all else fails and the customer is still angry and aggressive, know when you’ve reached your limit. If you’ve gone through all of the above tips and the person refuses to calm down and continues to yell or speak rudely, it may be time to end the call.