1. Keep Calm
It’s easier to say than to do when you encounter angry customers. Angry emails or rudeness during the call may easily drive you up the wall. So the first thing your agents should do is to take a breath and listen to what the customer is saying. They shouldn’t take customers’ words personally. In most cases, customers are frustrated with your product or service to the point they need to vent their frustrations upon somebody.
Sure, it doesn’t mean that your agents have to put up with rude, aggressive, or abusive language. Some people simply refuse to listen and continue to insult an agent. In these situations, Call Centre Helper recommends using the “three-strike rule”. It means that the agent can hang up if the customer continues to use rude, aggressive, or abusive language after a third warning from the agent’s side.
2. Listen Actively
As Steve Covey wrote in his bestseller 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”. Active listening means that the agent should concentrate on everything the customer says, instead of focusing on their anger or frustration. They have to let customers tell their story without interrupting. It will show that they really understand customer’s emotions and strive to help them to find a solution. Active listening can be demonstrated by using the same language as the customers use. For example, if the customer says they are frustrated with the product’s quality your agent should say something like “I understand your frustration”. It will demonstrate to the customer that your employee really listens to what they are saying. Such behavior may be effective in handling angry customers at the outset of the conflict. Another benefit of active listening is that it helps customers to vent and calm down.
3. Apologize but Be Careful
Apologies show customers that you are acknowledging the mistake and feel really sorry for the problem they’re having. However, these words shouldn’t be too formal. For example, instead of saying “I’m sorry for the inconvenience” the agent should be more thorough. Let them say something like “I’m sorry your order was late, this isn’t the quality of service we’re aiming for. I’ve analyzed your issue and here’s what happened…”. Such an apology, combined with a brief explanation will show customers that your company really cares about the problems they have with your products or services. It is also important not to overuse apologies. When your agents apologize where it is not necessary it has no value for customers.
4. Show Empathy
As one of Salesforce’s surveys says, 68% of customers expect brands to demonstrate empathy but only 37% of customers see this empathy demonstrated. It means that companies often underestimate its importance or misunderstand it.
Empathy doesn’t mean that your agents should always agree with angry customers. Not at all. It would be perceived as hypocrisy. True empathy means that you understand how the other person feels. Your agents can show it by using so-called empathy statements. These are phrases like:
“Your issue is a cause for concern. Let’s find out how this happened”
“Thank you for bringing this to my attention”
“I can understand how you feel. Let’s see how can I help you”
5. Use the Customer’s Name
“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language”, said Dale Carnegie in his famous book How to Win Friends and Influence People. It is definitely true when you have to deal with an angry or difficult customer. Using the customer’s name makes the conversation more personal and shows that your agent respects them. It is also a reminder that they speak with a real person who works for a real company. Moreover, it’s not a problem to find the customer’s name: if your CRM system is integrated with call center software, your agent can see their data as a screen pop.
6. Use Positive Language
Positive phrases can help your agents to alter the tone of the conversation and de-escalate the issue. Angry customers can’t stand arguing or disagreeing from your agent’s side so using negative language can only add fuel to the fire. It is also important to avoid implying that the customer is wrong or doesn’t understand something, like “let me be clear” or “to your information”. Here are the examples of positive phrases from Call Centre Helper your employees can use:
I definitely will make sure that it gets sorted…
I hope you enjoy your…
Yes, it is essential that you…
It would definitely be ideal, considering your situation…
I can highly recommend…
7. Present a Solution and Follow Up
Once the agent understands what the customer’s issue is, it’s time to present the solution. In many cases, it’s not possible to solve the problem at once so the agent should explain step by step what they are going to do. It shows the customer that their issue is treated seriously and gives them time to cool off. If the agent needs to follow up with the customer (send an email, SMS, or call back later), they have to keep the promise. Otherwise, it will harm your company’s reputation.
8. Work Out Procedures
Your agents should have clear instructions on how to deal with difficult or angry customers. They should know whom to address if they need to escalate the issue and have different scripts for such situations. Call center scripting software may help you a lot. With a call center solution from Voiptime Cloud, you can easily create various scripts for processing inbound and outbound calls, as well as web chats. These scripts may contain not only possible questions and answers but also such blocks as a poll, knowledge base, proposal, HTML iframe. These features may become real time-savers for your agents.
Dealing with customer complaints is not a piece of cake. However, decent training, a high level of emotional intelligence, and efficient tools can make this job easier.