How do you deal with an angry customer on the phone

Complaint handling: Are you dealing with telephone complaints effectively?

Complaint handling: Are you getting it right?

Everyone who runs a business will come across a complaint at some time or other. It may be about the service received, the product quality is unsatisfactory, or even a fly in the soup. Whatever the reason for the complaint the most important factor now is how you or your team deal with it.

Building a relationship with the customer is of paramount importance. The more you connect and empathise with the complainant’s cause the stronger the bond you will have. The stronger the bond the easier the resolution of the complaint. It’s always harder to stay angry or annoyed at someone you like and respect, especially if that person is also trying to help you.

Attitude is vitally important when dealing with any complaint. It’s not a competition about who can shout loudest, it’s not a personal attack, and nor is it designed to annoy you deliberately. The key to having the right attitude when dealing with any complaint is empathy. Put yourself in their shoes, understand what they are saying, remain calm, professional, and friendly throughout, and never lose your cool.

Now, the most important skill of all when dealing with complaints on the phone is to listen. Listening to what they say will enable you to take control of the situation. So always begin by apologising for their dissatisfaction “I’m sorry you’re upset” is a great start to the conversation, it allows you to apologise to the complainant, with no admission of guilt. Follow that up with “please, tell me what’s wrong”.  At this point you should shut up and start to take notes, as this is the listening part.

Allowing people to talk will allow the customer to get it all off there chest, unburden themselves of the stress. Try not to interrupt, note your questions down, and when they are finished with their rant you can begin to turn the situation around.

The first thing you should do at this point is thank them. Saying thank you makes them feel validated in complaining, that you have listened to their concerns, are prepared to act to resolve, and demonstrates your empathy toward there situation. It also gives you an opportunity. When things do go wrong, it is far better to know about any issues and rectify them, than to continue unknowingly.

Now ask your questions, and drill into the detail. What’s important to note at this stage is the whether you can meet the customer’s expectation in resolving the complaint satisfactorily. Managing their expectations at this stage will ensure the customer doesn’t gain false hope, and has a realistic view of the options available to you.

When you have the complete picture as to the nature of their complaint, you can now begin the resolution process. Cutting through the noise will help you to identify the key components of the complaint. Most people will pad out their complaint with additional, but not pertinent, comments to add meat to the bones. By removing the noise, you can get to the crux of the matter, and the begin to offer solutions.

Resolution doesn’t always mean compensation. Whilst in some cases restitution is required, sometimes all it takes is patience and an apology. Not everyone is out to get something, sometimes people genuinely want you to know something went wrong, or just want to be listened and to hear the words “I’m sorry”.

Complaint handling, when done well, will create a strong loyalty bond between you and your customer. Things do go wrong sometimes. If your customer knows that when mistakes happen you accept responsibility, apologise, and rectify, then they will have even more confidence in you and your organisation, and feel more confident in maintaining your business relationship. Conversely, getting your complaint handling wrong will almost certainly mean losing the customer for good, usually with negative reviews being passed either by word of mouth or on social media.

To find out how call recording and call logging software can aid you in your complaint handling please contact us or give us a call on 0333 0022 440, and one of our friendly team will be ready and waiting to help.



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