No matter what you do in this life, there’s likely to be someone who is incredibly unhappy about it. This is one of those hard and fast rules, and that goes double for customer service representatives. Anyone who deals with callers regularly will eventually come across someone who is absolutely seeing red because of something your company did or didn’t do to their satisfaction.
When they call, will you be ready?
Ideas for Handling Irate Callers
The first and most important goal of dealing with irate callers is diffusing the situation as quickly as possible. While it can be tempting to start yelling back, cursing or hanging up the phone entirely, this will only escalate the caller’s anger and definitely will not help resolve things. Somewhere, deep inside that ball of rage, is a real live person who really just needs help. They’ve simply been pushed to the edge of their patience.
You can help them. Just remember that they do need help more than anything. Start with these steps:
- Hear what they’re not saying. When someone calls to complain, they can be so agitated that they aren’t able to really articulate their problem. This is where active listening comes in really handy.
Rather than simply waiting to speak, listen to what they’re saying. There’s something in there that’s going to give you a clue about their issues. If you have records of past calls handy, go through them as quickly as you can to see if they’ve called on this same issue before.
- Let them know that you really hear them by repeating their point of concern back. When you work out what may be a problem, repeat it back to the caller. A good way to frame it is by saying something like, “I think I hear what you’re saying, you need someone to …” Don’t let it shake you if they respond that you’re wrong, they may not realize what the issue is themselves. But by trying to understand, you will help them to calm down, since they’ll realize someone is listening.
- Don’t push them off on someone else, instead, stay on the phone with them as you look for answers. Don’t push an irate caller back into the call queue or cold transfer them to someone else. Hang on tight to that bucking bronco for all you’re worth. This is where lukewarm customer service turns into amazing customer service. If you do legitimately need to transfer this caller, make sure they know who you’re sending them to and for what reason and always perform a warm transfer.
Dealing with irate callers is one of the hardest parts of delivering the best customer service, especially as a business owner. After all, the rage this person feels could be because of an action you or an employee took that you probably believed was the right thing to do at the moment. If you find that you can’t handle this kind of caller, you can contract with a live answering service to help your callers, whether they’re happy and angry.