How to Handle the Worst Customer Calls
On any given day, call center agents participate in dozens of phone calls. Each call is different than the next—one caller may be angry, the next cheerful, and the next making rude and disrespectful remarks to the agent. When call center agents pick up the phone, there’s no way of knowing who is going to be on the other end. While some calls are certainly better than others, Monet Software states that there are three types of calls that are the absolute worst.
According to a study done by the University of British Columbia, customers with a bad attitude are less likely to be satisfied at the end of a call. Even if the service provided was spectacular, a customer like this will not feel that his or her needs were met. These types of customers are the ones behind the three worst categories of phone calls.
The first type of call Monet lists is “The Angry Caller.” The angry caller is determined to give the agent a hard time from the moment the conversation starts. Agents can barely get the word “hello” out before the angry caller starts in on them. Most of the time, they’ve bottled up all of their anger and are ready to let it fly—in the direction of the call center agent, unfortunately.
It would be easy for agents to develop an attitude and get angry in response to these callers, but it’s important to stay calm. In fact, responding in a calm manner is one of the best ways to counteract the angry caller. Monet also suggests offering empathy—even if the agent doesn’t feel empathy, and the caller doesn’t deserve it. Using responses such as “I understand your frustration. I’m sure that was difficult. Let me try to take care of that for you,” may cause the caller to calm down.
The Abusive Caller is even worse than the angry caller. While an angry caller can be soothed, an abusive caller is aggressive and itching for a fight. They have no qualms about making their attacks personal, either. It can be extremely difficult for agents to remain calm, but it’s important not to stoop to their level. Monet suggests reminding these types of callers that the conversation is being recorded. If that doesn’t cause them to act civilly, then managers should allow agents to terminate the call. Yes, it’s important to help customers as much as possible, but no one deserves to have abuse thrown at them.
Finally, the Interrupting Caller is known for not letting agents get a word in. They call for help, but then don’t actually give agents a chance to help. Rather than getting frustrated or trying to cut the customer off, agents should just allow them to vent. Once there’s a pause indicating that they’ve gotten everything off their chest, then the agent can offer some advice.
Handling these types of calls can be incredibly difficult and it takes a lot of willpower to not get angry in return. Managers need to be aware every time there’s a combative caller on the line, and empower their agents to terminate the call if need be. A call center is meant to help but, at the end of the day, agents shouldn’t be allowed to be harassed. A manager’s job is about protecting their agents as much as it is about resolving customer issues.
Edited by Maurice Nagle