Everyone’s had that caller who pushed their patience to the limits. Maybe they were unnecessarily angry, overly insistent or just plain not listening to what you were trying to say, but in any case, they could be summed up neatly in one word: frustrating!

In these situations, it’s easy to lose your cool, but remember that this one bad experience can not only cost you a customer who might generally be quite pleasant, and more importantly, profitable, but their friends, family and anyone else interested in listening to their tale of woe at your hands.

Tips for Staying Cool in a Heated Customer Service Call

When you find yourself caught up in a customer service call that’s turning against you, or you pick up the phone and your caller is already on fire, it’s important to take a deep breath and take care that what you have to say doesn’t add fuel to the all-consuming inferno.

Here are some tips to help smother the flames:

  • Remember that the caller isn’t really mad at you personally. No matter what your caller has to say about your company, your product or your shirt, they don’t really mean it. They’re expressing their frustration in a way that’s gotten out of their control, you cannot counter this by getting out of control yourself.Instead, take a deep breath, remind yourself that this is not about you at all. Maybe they had a bad day: they locked their keys in their car and then stepped in gum and they were late for work and it rained on their head on the way into the building, then only to discover your product wasn’t working up to par. Their frustration isn’t about you, it’s about them.
  • Listen to what they’re really saying. When someone calls frustrated or even full-on angry, it’s vital that you employ all your best listening skills. They often say as much with what they aren’t saying as with what they are.Say, for example, your caller is describing the process of constructing your flat-packed product. They rant and rave from steps one through five, but completely skip six before moving on to seven. When they’re done, you can ask questions about that sixth step to see if that’s the root of the issue.
  • Apologize and empathize. Your product or company may be at fault, it happens. Products are shipped that aren’t perfect and customer service representatives make mistakes.In these situations, it’s important that you apologize and empathize with your caller. Even if it’s not your product or service that’s at fault, you can apologize for the customer experiencing the issue or being frustrated and empathize with them over that point. It’s a starting point to encourage them to drop their defenses.
  • Work together to find a solution. Those callers that are the most frustrating are often the most frustrated. This is important to remember, even as the call gets increasingly difficult to handle.Instead of fighting with the caller, look for ways that your goals as a customer service representative and your caller’s goals can be met, even if it’s only in part. It may take a little out of the box thinking, but when your caller realizes you’re trying to work with them and not against them, the call can immediately get easier to handle.

Of course, not everyone is going to be great at handling their own customer service calls. That’s where an answering service partner can be a huge help. Whether you face your harshest critics head on or let your answering service do the heavy lifting, it’s important to always treat those callers with the utmost respect. Remember, they’re calling you first, rather than running to social media to complain to their friends and family, so deep down they want to find a solution.