“I want to talk to your Supervisor”. This phrase said in a not so very pleasant manner, is an indication that you have an unhappy customer on the other line that is probably calling about a service provided to him/her that he/she is not satisfied with. It can also be an experience with a previous Customer Service Representative that he/she is going to complain about. It can be anything. But one thing is for sure - that the customer is not happy.
Customer Service is somewhat the ‘face’ in any business or organization. And with that being said, as a customer, you would always want a happy, approachable and helpful face greeting you when you come into an establishment for a customer service related concern. This is also true when calling a 1-800 number for the same concern.
Unfortunately, the process of providing good quality service is not always an ‘All’s well that ends well’ kind of thing. More often than not, a customer service representative will encounter an irate customer. These customers are apparently those who have been, or at least felt, that they have been inconvenienced by a certain Company or Organization.
Dealing with these types of callers can be tough depending on the severity of the issue they are calling about. In my own experience in the Customer Service Industry, I have encountered a lot of these customers over the phone. Customers who are calling because they are not getting the speed that they are supposed to be getting for their DSL service; others calling very angry as they have not received the new computer they have ordered online; the list goes on.
I have listed some of what I believe are, for me, the best tips for handling irate callers. Some of these are based on my personal experience and some are from books that I have read and online articles. The list may help you in dealing with irate callers in a more efficient manner.
LISTEN - This is very important in better understanding where the customer’s anger is coming from. There are times when they just want to vent their frustration. So stay calm and simply listen.
In listening, let the client vent without interrupting as this may escalate simple frustration to a more unlikely situation. It is also helpful to jot down major points of their issue while they are venting. This way you can help find an answer to their issue more efficiently.
EMPATHIZE - Acknowledging the customer’s feelings after venting their frustration can make the customer calmer and feel that somebody understands where their frustration is coming from. However, make sure you are not overdoing it as it may sound like you are patronizing them.
Apologize if it is necessary. This does not necessarily mean you agree with the client's position. It means you empathize with how the client is feeling.
PARAPHRASE – Before you go offering any solution to their concern, make sure to paraphrase. This is to make sure that you are on the same page.
More often than not, we go finding a solution to a customer’s concern right away without really double checking with them if you understand that you indeed understand their concern. Just when you think you are helping them, you are actually aggravating them even more.
TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY – Once you received a call complaint or any complaint at all, there are chances that you have nothing to do with the problem. However, it’s your job to take the responsibility and help initiate a solution. Also, avoid the HOLD button as much as possible. The hold time will add to the caller’s frustration, escalating the situation.
OFFER A SOLUTION – After doing the much-needed research about the caller’s issue, offer a solution that best suits their need. Ask confirmation questions such as, “How does that work for you?” By asking this question, you are focusing your client’s mind on the benefits of your solution. If the solution does not work for them, you can ask additional probing questions to find a better solution.
GO THE EXTRA MILE - By asking the customer if there is anything else you can help them with, you are making them feel more appreciated. And by thanking them for their patient, it can lighten their mood that can put a smile on their face.
After taking these tips, your customer might end up asking ‘May I talk to your Supervisor?’ again. But this time, they are taking time to talk to your Supervisor to commend you on a job well done.