What to do when you are on the line with an upset caller.
Call centers and customer service representative’s jobs are to converse with callers every day. Some calls are quick, others longer. Some are positive or simply searching for information. Some involve a need, maybe for an appointment or a call back while others are calling in with a concern or issue that must be addressed quickly and effectively.
Upset customers can hurt a business’ bottom line. Not only does word of mouth spread quickly when something bad happens but in our digital world complaints and issues are extremely visible online. Reviews appear on Google, Yelp, Facebook and many other places. Understanding your customers and keeping them happy must always be at the forefront of your daily activities.
- Keep your cool
When someone is upset, they tend to yell. Our immediate reaction is to yell back but in a consumer – company situation this is never the recommended solution. Seems obvious enough, right? We all know the saying “the customer is always right”, and even though this is not always 100% true we must continuously remain in this mindset.
To handle an escalated call well the situation must be handled in the most relaxed manner as possible. You are the one answering the call but the customer is not actually mad at you, rather their current satiation or a situation they found themselves in. This is important to keep in mind. Be empathetic but don’t take it personal. You may have found yourself in a similar situation at one time and that will help you understand their needs more.
- Listen to the person on the other end of the phone
This is tricky for us all, but especially when someone is upset they will talk a lot, complain and feel a strong urge to be heard often resulting in a raised tone. Take the time and listen to their problem. They will be able to sense concern, or just as equally pick up on your lack of compassion as well.
When you are able to respond let them know you hear them. Use phrases like “So what I am hearing is …” or “Okay, I understand.” Validate with them that you hear their issue and you genuinely want to help them find a solution.
- Be sympathetic
Offer the customer a level of understanding you would wish you receive if you were them. Let them know that you feel their frustration and mean it. Make it personal to their situation. If you had been listening to their issue(s) this will be easy to then translate that information back in a compassionate way.
After being empathetic to their situation, offer the customer steps to come next that will continue the problem solving process.
- Keep the conversion going
No upset person ever wants to be put on hold, ever. That few seconds, or minutes will only give them time to think more about and sometimes create a bigger issue than is really at hand.
You may need to ask for help, or look into their problem further, which is okay – but always keep them informed as to what you are working on, solutions you are thinking about and what may happen next. It shows you care, which will go a long way with the customer.
- Offer them a solution
A solution is essentially the reason for their call in the first place so be sure and make this the goal of each call. Even if the caller is not upset, they called for a reason and always make sure that is addressed before letting them go. Also, always ask if there is anything else that you can help them with. You never know if they have more than one issue or question that you may be able to assist with, possibly avoiding another escalated call in the future even.
Never rush them off the phone or tell them there is nothing that can be done. Would you want to hear that as an upset customer?
Overall, be empathetic, give solutions, offer an apology where needed and keep the caller informed. Solve their issue before letting them go. Train yourself to listen. Remember customers talk and post online about good experiences too!
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