Nearly 10% of employees have avoided answering a work call over concerns about dealing with an angry customer, according to our research.
This percentage is even higher among young workers, who say dealing with complaints and unhappy customers is their biggest fear when it comes to calls at work.
Nobody wants to answer calls from angry customers. They’re awkward, unpleasant and can easily go from bad to worse if not handled properly.
But they’re inevitable, even if they don’t happen very often. Around 4% of customers complain to companies they deal with, according to Zippia.
It might not sound like much, but that can be dozens, hundreds, thousands of complaints depending on customer numbers. There are ways of dealing with angry customers that can diffuse situations and, in some cases, even turn the call into a positive experience.
We deal with thousands of business calls on a daily basis. Here are our 7 top tips for dealing with an angry caller.
1 – Stay calm
One of the most important things you can do while speaking with an angry caller is stay calm.
It’s easy to get flustered or unnerved when you have an unhappy caller unloading complaints at you, but this is a sure way to lose track of the conversation – which gives the caller even more ammunition to use in the complaint.
As hard as it can be, stay calm and composed. Listen to what the caller is saying, and respond with measured answers.
Not only will you sound more professional, it will increase the chances of the caller calming down and matching your energy, rather than constantly berating you if you come across as nervous or unsure.
2 – Use an empathetic, professional tone
Tone of voice accounts for just 38% of communication in normal situations, according to psychologist Professor Albert Mehrabian. While 55% is communicated through body language.
But on the phone, tone is everything. And an empathetic tone is the best way to get a customer back on side.
Remember, as angry as any caller can be, ultimately they’re only annoyed because they have a problem, and all they’re looking for is someone to listen, take their issue seriously and help them solve it.
Reassuring the customer that you understand their situation, that you get why they’re annoyed, and showing them you’re on their side and working to resolve whatever issue they have will ultimately calm the customer down.
Dealing with customers in this way can even get them back on side if they know any issues they have are being dealt with as quickly as possible.
3 – Take time to listen to their problems
Sometimes a caller has a complex issue to be resolved, other times they’re just annoyed and need to vent.
When dealing with a customer like this, the best thing you can do is say nothing and simply listen carefully to what the problem is until they’ve finished.
If it’s a complicated problem you’ll need to listen carefully so you can resolve the issue properly. If the caller is just annoyed, you can be an ear for them to vent these frustrations.
Obviously if a caller becomes abusive then jump in and ask them to calm down. Or if you need clarification on a particular point, ask them to repeat the information.
But for the most part, try not to jump in and interrupt. In some situations there’ll be nothing you can say and constantly cutting a customer off is only going to make them more annoyed.
By taking as much time as the customer needs you’ll have a better chance of understanding the problem and resolving it first time.
4 – Reassure them you care about their issues
We’ve all had things go wrong or experienced service problems in the past.
Whether it’s a question about a bill, or our internet has gone down and we need it reinstated quickly, we’ve all had the experience of being an annoyed customer.
And in those situations we want the company we call to take our issue seriously, care about what we’re saying and provide answers.
The last thing we want is to feel dismissed, or that we’re an inconvenience for ever having called in the first place.
If the person on the other end of the line sounds like they have no interest in what we’re saying, we’re bound to get annoyed.
It’s the same for your business’ customers. When they call, they want to know you care about helping them and aren’t just treating them like a ticket you need to put in a pile to deal with when you get a chance.
Just showing a level of interest in a customer’s problem can be enough to bring a situation back under control.
5 – Try not to put the customer on hold
Sometimes there’s no other choice but to put a customer on hold if you need to step away to find information that can help them.
But when you’re dealing with an unhappy customer, putting them on hold should be something you do as a last resort.
No-one likes being put on hold at the best of times, but when you’re already annoyed, being forced to listen to high-pitched hold music for minutes at a time is only going to make us more annoyed.
If you do need to put a customer on hold, explain why you’re doing it, and come back to them regularly even if you’re waiting for information to come through.
Leaving a customer sat on hold when they’re already irritated is a sure way to escalate a situation.
6 – Set a deadline for responses if you can’t help them on the first call
While it’s ideal you’ll be able to help a customer resolve an issue the first time they call – especially if they’re annoyed, it’s not always possible.
In some situations you’ll need to go away to find an answer, or it’ll take time to fix an issue.
If you do need to end a call before an issue has been resolved with a customer, provide a time when you’ll be back in touch with an update.
As customers we’re more likely to be annoyed with not knowing what’s going on with a problem we’re having, rather than waiting a few hours when we know we’ll be contacted.
7 – Make customers feel important and transfer calls to a “senior” individual
We all like to feel important. Making customers feel important is a great way to keep them on side if they’re not in the best of moods.
A good way to do this with angry callers is to emphasise the importance of their worries by passing the calls to a more senior relevant person. Usually a manager or supervisor.
The call would likely end up being passed along anyway. But by letting the caller know this is where their query is heading, they’re more inclined to feel as though their issue is being taken seriously.
A telephone answering service could deal with your angry callers
Angry callers will always be a part of customer service.
But knowing how to deal with these calls is the best way to reduce the chances of a call escalating and potentially losing a customer.
If you need help with your business’ calls, our professional telephone answering service can help.
Our experienced call agents are fully trained on handling all kinds of calls and can easily deal with customer complaints, helping you retain high levels of service by giving your employees more time to resolve problems, rather than dealing with calls.
For more information on how a telephone answering service or other call answering services could help your business.
10th November, 2023
Posted by Face For Business