The Complete Guide on How to Deal with Angry Customer on the Phone
In your opinion, what is the most important criterion for customers to buy any product? Maybe, price, brand awareness, or effective advertising?
According to Khoros, good customer service is critical for 83% of consumers. So, every company should try to give the best customer experience possible if it wants to increase its revenue and have more loyal clients.
But not all the customer calls are friendly and easy to go. Customers will not call you if they have no issues with your product or company. And how can the customer service team handle angry customers to maintain the level of customer satisfaction and even increase it? Let’s take a closer look.
The benefits of applying the right approach to difficult customers
Someone may think, “Isn’t it easier to find new clients than trying to communicate and satisfy dissatisfied customers?”
We know 2 main reasons why it is not:
- It is a high level of competition nowadays, so every company should focus on maintaining their current clients and upselling because it is cheaper and easier to do.
- Almost everyone planning to buy from a new company reads reviews because social proof matters. Therefore, you should consider the feedback you receive from dissatisfied clients because this will probably reduce the number of people who want to do business with your company.
Thus, excellent customer service guarantee you will always have numerous loyal customers and a constant influx of new ones.
According to HubSpot, 93% of people prefer to buy again from those who offer the best customer service.
But there are other good benefits you will have. It is just enough to learn to perceive any negative experience as a point of growth.
For example, angry conversations are an excellent opportunity for your agents to practice their conflict resolution skills. In addition, they will quickly identify scripts that need to be updated. Eventually, all your business will improve and become more competitive.
So, if you want to increase your revenue, you must first train your support center managers to deal with angry customers.
4 types of irate customers
But not all angry clients are the same. There are four main types of them, and support agents should be able to identify them and use appropriate scripts and conversation-building strategies.
Client with a legitimate grievance
These customers have the most compelling reasons for contacting customer service because the company did not keep its promises to deliver goods or provide services.
But dealing with legitimate grievance clients is the easiest, as the manager sends a call to his supervisor to resolve the conflict.
This type of person is used to dealing with negative emotions by pouring them onto others. A very non-environmental method, which is very often felt by the service personnel: waiters, sellers, and support department employees.
Such clients tend to artificially increase the size of the real problem to make their complaint valid. Therefore, it is essential to remain calm and reasonably assess the actual scale of the concern, try to solve it as quickly as possible, and protect yourself from the emotional drain.
No one wants to be threatened, especially by a stranger. A call center agent isn’t the exception.
Unfortunately, some people threaten managers, trying to assert themselves, raise their self-esteem, or achieve certain privileges. And it’s imperative that agents mustn’t take threats personally. You, as their boss, should give them a sense of security and safety so that they can work calmly and communicate with customers on an equal footing, and not from the position of a servant.
Communication with this type of client is considered the most difficult. After all, an aggressive tone, threats, and even curses can annoy even the most patient managers.
What should the customer service representative do in this case?
Each support department sets its own rules, but on average, an employee has the right to hang up after three warnings to the client. They can be expressed in forms like:
- Dear Sir/Madam, I truly apologize, but if you continue to speak the such inappropriate language, I will have to end our conversation.
- I’m trying to solve your issue right now, but the kind of language you are using is intolerable. If you continue to communicate in this manner, I will be forced to hang up.
How to prepare for dialogues with upset customers?
Preparation is key. Follow these recommendations and help your managers to handle angry customers:
- Train them in active listening and conflict resolution skills. These soft skills are essential not only for their professional success but also for their private life.
- Analyze previous experience and prepare scripts for the most common situations that your employees may face.
- Write clear instructions for action to be followed by all customer service reps in case of contact with each of the four types of dissatisfied customers.
9 tips on how to handle angry callers
Use them in your daily work if you are a help desk agent. If you are a support manager or company owner, ensure your employees follow them successfully.
Remember the first step of preparation? We hope you have taught your representatives to actively listen to the clients, which makes the customer feel heard and gives them confidence in a company employee from the first dialogue.
It is easy to show how to follow this principle in two sentences: Speak less. Ask more.
Don’t interrupt your companion, especially if it is an offloader. He just needs to express everything sore, even if the reason is not at your company. Let him do it, don’t try to argue or make excuses. He will calm down after a couple of minutes of emotional tirade and will be ready to listen to you.
Be empathetic toward the client
Another instrument the reps should use is empathy, firstly, towards anger as such.
In a cultural society, violent manifestations of emotions are not welcome—especially bursts of anger and aggression. On the one hand, it is logical because we are trying to be civilized and tolerant. But emotional manifestations became so strongly forbidden that people began to deny anger as a natural manifestation of man, like being angry is not normal.
Be prudent. Remember that anger is a basic human emotion, like fear, joy, or sadness. It helps us understand that something went wrong and defend our boundaries and interests.
Therefore, recognize your right and the right of others to be angry. This is how you take the most critical step on the path to empathy. Then, try to understand other customers’ feelings which are only a consequence of dissatisfaction with your company’s service or product.
Stay in the right mood
But it is hard to stay calm when someone talks to you aggressively and even threatens you. So how to deal with it?
The answer is – don’t take things personally. You or your managers have to learn this skill through practice. There is no other way. But if you learn how to build a mental barrier and not succumb to the aggressive influence of the client, the conversation’s success is guaranteed.
Lower your voice
When you’re talking to an aggressive person, try to speak more slowly and in a lower voice. Your voice should seem to envelop the client with calmness and lower the degree of emotional intensity. Become a plus for his minus and balance your conversation.
Choose the right words
Did you hear about positive language? For example:
- to say about alternatives instead of saying “NO”;
- to tell what can be done;
- focus on positive actions and positive consequences.
Compare these answers:
Incorrect: “We don’t give refunds.”
Correct: “I can’t offer you a refund, but there is something else I can do for you.”
Incorrect: “I can’t help you because I have no information.”
Correct: “Good question. Give me a minute to find out the information for you.”
We are talking about the same thing, but how are the answers perceived differently, agree?
Another tip we want to give is to follow the PIA principle when responding to the client. PIA is an abbreviation that stands for:
P – power word which is a reaction to the customer’s emotion: Oh, Oh my;
I – I-statement, which relates to the customer experience and showing understanding;
A – assurance that you will help resolve the issue.
Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Let’s see what we can do to correct this misunderstanding.
Avoid leaving the angry caller on the line
In an attempt to avoid the unpleasant experience of dealing with an angry customer, many managers put them on hold. They mistakenly believe that while the caller waits for an answer, he will calm down. But believe me, this will only infuriate him more, and you are guaranteed a negative review.
According to Mitel, 60% of callers hang up if left on hold in silence for more than 1 minute. And 30% of them will not call you back. Be sure that they have already become buyers of your competitors.
So, managers should try to handle irate customers without putting them on hold.
Another even worse situation is to switch an angry client to another agent. Even if that rep can solve the problem better and faster, don’t do this until the caller calms down and can logically assess the need for such a redirect. As long as he’s emotional, he’ll take it as an attempt to get rid of him.
And he is very often right because there is unscrupulous support staff who regularly send dissatisfied customers to their colleagues. It is inappropriate; if you are a boss, you must control and stop this behavior.
Use supportive resources
If you see you do not have enough knowledge or experience to solve a client request, contact your colleagues for help. If you are the head of the department, make sure that your agents can communicate quickly with each other, and you also can join the conversation and help them. For example, Ring.io clients use a Call Whisper feature for this purpose.
Solve the problem or summarize the next steps
All your client wants is to resolve his issue with your help. Yes, all stormy emotions, loud statements, and raised tones are sometimes confusing. But you must not lose sight of the solution to the client’s problem. Therefore, cut off everything superfluous, listen carefully, trying to formulate the main request of the client.
Once it is formed, start looking for a solution. The consumer can continue his tirade, but you ask clarifying questions and move towards a solution. Believe me; all anger will quickly disappear when you say: “Your problem has been successfully solved!”
If the issue can’t be solved here and now, give the client clear instructions on what he needs to do by himself. 3-5 steps, accessible and understandable. Make sure the customer has no questions left and will not call back again because this negatively affects a vital indicator as FCR (first call resolution).
Make the customer happy
Customer satisfaction depends not so much on a product’s or service’s objective quality but on the emotions and impressions they cause. Therefore, in addition to solving the problem itself, it is also essential to change the unhappy customer’s mood.
A proven way is to pleasantly surprise the client by giving him more than he expected before the call. Offer a discount or membership in a loyalty program, for example.
The standard move is also to clarify at the end of the conversation how else you can be helpful to the client.
What should be done after the conversation with a difficult customer
Now you have all the powerful weapons to deal with dissatisfied customers effectively. Use them in your work or teach your employees how to use them.
The next step is to make sure customer service representatives all use them. To do this, use special tools. For example, you can record calls with the Call Recording feature and then analyze records to identify errors or correct scripts. If you do this kind of analysis and optimization regularly, your company will soon offer excellent customer service.