complaint handling

How do you deal with an angry customer on the phone

No matter how well you run your business, likelihood is that at some point you’ll have an angry customer to deal with. However, learning to deal with them effectively and problems in general, can easily be turned into a positive for your company.

See the issue from both sides

As most likely the first point of contact for a disgruntled customer, the way you react is key to whether they maintain their relationship with the company in the future. It’s true, first impressions certainly do last. It’s important therefore that you’re able to display some empathy with their point of view, whilst of course having the best interests of the business in mind too. Ultimately you’re aiming for customer satisfaction and at no point should you take their grievances as personal in any way.

A few pointers

  • Never enter into an argument – Always be calm, patient and professional in every response. Irrespective of the level of anger being hurled towards you, do your best not to enter into an argument. If the call is particularly confrontational, expressing empathy with their viewpoint and seeking to find a resolution should be your primary aim.
  • Engage your listening skills – You may be receiving a tirade from the customer but you should try to avoid butting in whilst they are speaking. A forceful intervention is only likely to make the situation worse so it’s always best to hear them out before beginning to reply. It might also be that you have to listen really carefully in order to understand the gist of the complaint.
  • Be patient and caring – By remaining calm and patient you allow yourself every opportunity to offer the best response. Your first response should then be one that shows how much you care about the issue and how committed you are to making sure they are happy with the outcome at the end of the call. Explain that you will be doing everything in your power to resolve the situation and that you are focused solely on this particular problem.
  • Stay positive – Even if the call appears to get worse before it can get better, keep a positive mind about the outcome. Never lose sight of what your end goal is, even if you have to dig a little deeper than you might have initially expected for inspiration. Always remember to try and focus on the things you can offer rather than the things you can’t.

After the call

A particularly volatile call from an angry customer can really take it out of you and you shouldn’t underestimate the levels of stress involved. Where possible try and take some time to de-stress. Walk away from your work station and make a coffee, or find someone to chat to briefly. Everyone deals with stress differently so it’s good to find your own remedies, just don’t let the stress build up quietly without addressing it. Prevention is always better than cure!

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