12. May 2019 Blog

How to Handle Calls with Unhappy Customers? It’s Easier Than You Think

Are you a call center agent? Remember when you picked up the phone and immediately after you said hello, you were flooded with complaints because the caller hadn’t received their package in time or their warranty claim had been refused? It happens all the time. And then another angry customer calls. You’re trying to solve their special request and despite your helpful and professional approach, they are upset. Yes, these things can happen. But they shouldn’t happen to you

How to make sure that you always keep it cool and avoid being angry at an irritated customer?

Tips for handling difficult call center calls

1.    Listen actively.

When you talk to an upset customer, pay extra attention and try to really understand why they are unhappy. Maybe you’ll find out that it’s all just a misunderstanding, maybe you’ll solve their problems in two seconds, in other cases the solution might be more complex and time-consuming. If you don’t listen to the client carefully and lift their words out of context, you might make the situation even worse.

For example, let’s say that a customer calls to complain about their invoice for mobile services. You check it in your system and see that they have the M package that costs EUR 20 per month, but you didn’t hear that the client was promised to get a discount. So you don’t check whether the discount is activated in the system and start convincing the caller that there’s nothing wrong with the invoice and everything is in accordance with terms and conditions. And you’ve made yourself a new problem.

2.    Don’t give in to your emotions.

It’s easier said than done, but in stressful situations, you should stay professional and neutral. Although in some cases, it’s good to show a bit of empathy with the unhappy client. In any case, avoid sounding irritated, avoid irony and phrases that will only make the situation worse: 

  • "I don’t know. Nobody expects that you have a Google-sized database in your head and that you remember everything. Nevertheless, for a customer, you are the one who should have the answers to their questions. You could say: "I can’t give you an answer right now, but I’ll check and get back to you as soon as possible." 
  • "Please calm down." You’re not the client’s parent or mentor to tell them how to behave. Stay professional and say something like: "I understand why you might be upset. Let’s check it together and we’ll see what can be done."
  • "Unfortunately not/It’s impossible." There’s always an alternative. Some requests really can’t be accommodated, but try to offer the caller an alternative: "I’m sorry, but we can’t do that. What if we tried to…?"
  •  "It’s not our fault." In other words: "It’s our fault." Instead of making up excuses, make sure that you do everything to solve the client’s problem.

3.    Be self-confident.

Don’t let yourself be smashed by angry words and stay assertive. This will show the caller that you have the call and the situation under control. Try to help the client, but don’t succumb to his excessive demands. 

4.    Show interest.

Each person is different – some clients will be angry for no reason, others will be kind even if they have a problem. However, if you’re arrogant or cold as ice, you will surely make a bad impression.

5.    The customer should leave the call happier.

First of all, try to fix what can be fixed. If you’ve handled an explosion of emotions and you’ve managed to find a solution, try to offer something extra to the customer, for example, a voucher or a discount code. It won’t erase the unpleasant experience from their memory, but at least you’ll show them that you care.

6.    Don’t forget to apologize.

It may sound trivial, but many customers never get an apology...

It may sound unfair, but you shouldn’t be nervous and unpleasant just because your clients are. Remember that this is your job and for every unhappy caller, you might get ten friendly ones :-).