5 Ways to Handle Angry Customers

James Purcell/ December 29, 2015/ blog

Call Centre Techniques to Resolve Difficult Situations

Arema Connect takes calls for a number of different companies, from Property Management businesses to Christmas tree companies. Over the holiday season, stress levels can reach boiling point and call centre agents have to be prepared for this. More often than not customers simply have to be reassured that their problem is being heard, dealt with and will be eventually solved.

As a customer-centric organisation, we must take every customer call with a fresh new perspective and work with points of contact within the business to ensure the situation is resolved.

Here are 5 ways our agents handle these difficult situations:

1. Understanding

Apologising is the first step of action if an error has been made, ‘I do apologise’ is more appropriate than ‘I’m sorry’, it shows a level of professionalism. The second step is listening actively. It may take a while for the full explanation but patience is a must. The problem is there somewhere and the best way to show that you know it is to repeat it back to them. This allows them to add more details if necessary whilst also ensuring you fully comprehend the extent of the issue.

2. Taking Responsibility

Assure the customer that you personally are going to help solve this matter, giving out your name and extension number is another way you can give the customer confidence that the matter is being dealt with. This will calm the situation further. Another tip that I find helpful is being proactive, you can do this by calling the customer back even if the issue has yet to be resolved. It shows the issue is being taken seriously.

3. Setting Realistic Expectations 

Experience is key for this point. Experienced agents know to never set unrealistic expectations just to end the call quicker. This leads to more problems in the long run and a customer who will be angrier due to a loss of trust. Once this trust has been broken it is very difficult to mend. If the call-back time is one hour it is one hour, lying neither helps you or the customer. It is better to underpromise and overdeliver than it is to overpromise and under deliver.

4. Escalations

‘I want to speak with the manager or your supervisor’ This is a standard request and the answer should be ‘yes of course’. At this stage, the best way to approach the situation is to ask questions. ‘No problem, I just need to ask you a few questions so I can determine who exactly I need to escalate to’. Sometimes by asking questions, you realise this is something you can help with, ‘Actually, I can help you with that, here is what you need to do..’. Leading questions allow you to take control of the call and instil confidence in the situation.

5. Stay Calm

First of all, it is important to mention that overly abusive calls are not tolerated, a customer should be warned about swearing and being abusive. If they continue to do so the call should be terminated.

It is vitally important to maintain professionalism and to avoid negative language. Sometimes you just have to put yourself in the customer’s shoes, they may be having a bad day or possibly a bad week but the key is to try and rise above this and focus on the issue.

By utilising the steps above a call centre agent can be better prepared when dealing with irate customers. Inevitably some customers will be justifiably angry and some will be just having a bad day, its human nature, but as a call centre, we must maintain professionalism over the phone.