Tips for Dealing with Angry Callers
As a general rule, no one likes to be yelled at. There are very few people on the planet that can get yelled at without it bothering them in the slightest—and to you few, I applaud you. Unfortunately for call center agents, dealing with angry customers who have a tendency to yell and criticize is part of the job. It’s unpleasant, and having a thick skin is one of the best ways to keep angry customers from getting to you. However, not everyone can easily let those comments go, and the last thing an already negative situation needs is for the agent to become angry or stressed as well. So what can agents do to deal with angry customers? Here are a few tips.
Use the customer’s name. Although it’s important not to overuse customer names, as that can feel like false sincerity, there’s also power in a name. Using the customer’s name can actually calm a frustrated caller down if they’re angry. The reason why is simple: someone apologizing to you while using your name sounds much more sincere. If you compare “I’m so sorry, ma’am” with “I’m so sorry, Diane,” the latter is obviously much more personalized and caring. This technique can be beneficial for both the caller and the agent. The caller realizes that the agent is genuinely concerned and working to solve the problem, and the agent remembers that they’re talking to a real person with a life and concerns, rather than just a faceless person yelling at them.
Remain calm. This may seem obvious, but it’s often difficult to remain calm when dealing with an angry caller. One of the best ways for agents to keep themselves from becoming angry as well is to smile when they talk. It may sound silly, but smiling while you talk automatically makes you sound friendlier and more open to discussion. This technique has been proven to be true time and time again. So next time you have an angry caller on the phone, smile through it, and hopefully your friendliness will diminish their combative attitude or at least keep the negativity from affecting you.
Actively listen and sympathize. When an angry customer calls the contact center, they’re going to want to vent. There’s really no way to avoid that situation, so all an agent can do is make the caller feel heard and appreciated. By actively listening and responding to different aspects of the customer’s vent session, agents can make it clear that they care about helping solve the problem. It may help to let the customer get everything off their chest, and then summarize what you’ve heard and offer sympathetic comments along the way. Callers who feel heard are more likely to calm down because they feel cared for and are assured that help is on the way.
Apologize and offer a solution. Even if the customer’s complaint isn’t entirely legitimate, it’s important to apologize gracefully. A simple, genuine statement indicating that an agent is sorry for the difficulty the customer has experienced should be enough. From there, agents need to work out a solution with the customer; this can be done by asking the customer’s opinion or offering a solution of the agent’s own making. At the end of the day, a solution to the problem is all an angry customer wants. Giving them that solution, and apologizing in the process, should diffuse the situation.
Edited by Maurice Nagle