Do’s and Don’ts for Dealing with Irate Customers in a Call Center 

Here's how to deal with angry customers

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Do's and Don'ts for Dealing with Irate Customers in a Call Center 
Contact CentreInsights

Published: October 16, 2023

CX Today Team

Almost anyone working in a service business will, at some point, have to cope with an irate client. Although it may be difficult, it’s possible to settle a customer’s issues and retain their continued commitment to the brand, regardless of a temporary discontentment.

8 Ways to Deal with Irate Customers in Call Centers

Customers who come across as unpleasant or even irate aren’t necessarily venting their dissatisfaction at you. These feelings are triggered by things happening in a wholly external environment and inside one’s own head. So it’s critical to hone and use your communication skills to resolve these issues, by following our checklist of must-dos and deal with irate customers effectively!

1. DO read between the lines with reflective listening

To develop reflective listening, one mustn’t only hear but also absorb and interpret what the other person is actually saying. After taking stock of the problem, your next move needs to be to respond to, and relay the customer’s sentiments back to them — ensuring they are convinced of your empathy.

The client may express their dissatisfaction by saying things like, “I’m upset since we have a tight budget and you’re reluctant to grant us a discount.” So, I’m currently hearing the fact that our price is an issue for your company,” The agent might respond, “You have a strict budget, and I can’t give you the kind of discount you require. Is that what we should try and resolve?”

2. DO acknowledge the customer’s feelings

An irate client at first wants you to acknowledge that you understand why they are unhappy. You can validate their emotions without apologizing. Consider a phrase like, “I understand how you feel, and I’m truly sorry.”

3. DO let the customer vent

Almost every dissatisfied consumer seeks an outlet for their emotions. For better or worse, the contact center agent often becomes the only one around to pay attention as the customer vents — and shares his/her/their state of mind. If an individual feels heard, your attentive ears will have a soothing impact. Let them finish speaking. When they are done, it can be helpful to take stock of what you’ve heard and then ask any questions you may have.

4. DO break the customer’s issue down into manageable chunks

Sometimes, the irate customer’s emotional reaction can overshadow the problem at hand. In such scenarios, agents can take an apparently major problem and split it into manageable segments with associated tasks. When divided into bite-sized pieces, problems become less daunting, and action can be taken — without complexity or obfuscation.

Now, let’s look at a few things you shouldn’t do when handling irate customers, as that could only make matters worse, not better.

5. DON’T be impersonal

Adding a personal touch creates a healthy rapport and helps you stand out from a crowd of anonymous commentators. Counteract this with information by using the CRM’s customer data and conversational context to keep from repeating yourself or repeating old ideas. An impersonal tone can make customers even more irate and the lack of contextualized information will tell them that they are just another customer on the queue.

6. DON’T match the caller’s tone of voice

It might be tempting to mirror a customer’s angry tone of voice in an effort to calm them down. This, however, must be resisted at all costs should the situation deteriorate any further. Don’t succumb to the (normal) desire to defend your stance; instead, speak with a degree of equanimity and firmness — that’s polite and level-headed. Try to understand that they are only seeking to reclaim control after feeling deeply undervalued.

7. DON’T take it personally

Remember, an agent is not the target of an irate customer. They feel betrayed by the service or product. They bought an item with great expectations, and yet it fell short in some manner. Taking customer issues personally puts you at risk of being defensive or even upset with the customer, which only makes matters worse.

8. DON’T be overly cautious of negative outcomes

We react in different ways since we are afraid of what might transpire. The desire for control is a standard psychological response to anxiety. There is apprehension about dealing with an exceptionally difficult client for fear of destroying the connection. Agents have to break free of the notion that they must immediately fix the issue. Your role isn’t to come up with a solution at once, but to instead listen, understand, and work out what should happen next.

Key Takeaways

Customer service is challenging, but it’s possible to deal with irate customers. Doing so proficiently is almost an art form, and it gives the organization a chance to establish an optimistic, resilient culture. Agents should encourage customers to air their grievances instead of intervening unnecessarily. The next step is to treat them with respect, empathy, and patience while collaborating to arrive at a solution.

However, it is also important to keep an escalation flowchart at hand. This ensures that agents don’t get burnt out while handling an irate customer after another, and there’s co-ownership of the customer experience across the organization.

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