Winning Hearts and Smoothing Tempers: Expert Tips for Dealing with Irate Customers

Dealing with irate customers means handling those who are extremely angry, frustrated, or dissatisfied

Winning Hearts and Smoothing Tempers Expert Tips for Dealing with Irate Customers - CX Today News
Contact CentreInsights

Published: February 16, 2024

Anwesha Roy - UC Today

Anwesha Roy

These are the customers who’ve reached their boiling point and are ready to let loose on anyone who crosses their path.

So why do customers become irate in the first place? There could be various reasons. It could be due to a product or service not meeting their expectations, a long wait time on hold, being transferred between departments multiple times, or even unresolved issues from previous interactions.

When dealing with customers who are this angry – or anxiety-stricken – it’s important for contact center agents to understand that they’re not just speaking with an upset person – they’re also facing an opportunity. Yes – you read that right! By successfully resolving these situations and turning irate customers into satisfied ones, agents can actually build trust and loyalty with them.

But here’s the thing: managing – and ultimately calming the tempers of irate customers is no walk in the park. It requires patience, strong communication skills, and emotional intelligence. Agents need to approach these situations with empathy and understanding while maintaining professionalism throughout the interaction.

Next, we’ll outline six steps that every contact center agent should follow when faced with an angry customer.

6 Steps for Contact Center Agents Dealing with Irate Customers

Dealing with irate customers is never easy, but it’s a crucial skill for contact center agents to master. To help you navigate these challenging situations, here are six steps that can make a major difference in resolving customer issues and maintaining positive relationships.

1. Prepare mentally

When you see a reopened ticket, a prolonged call, or a customer who has been transferred between departments and agents, it’s important to prepare yourself mentally for the interaction ahead. These situations can be tricky and may require an enormous amount of patience and empathy. Take a deep breath, and remind yourself that this is just another opportunity to provide excellent customer service.

2. Read up

Next, remind yourself to stay focused on the customer’s needs. Take the time to review any notes or data on previous interactions using customer intelligence tools. This will help you better understand their history and concerns/issues before engaging with them again.

3. Listen actively

When a customer starts “venting” – or pouring their hearts out –  resist the urge to interrupt or defend yourself right away. Instead, focus on listening attentively. As they express their frustrations, try to understand the root cause of their anger. Pay attention to both what they say and how they say it – tone of voice and body language can offer valuable insights into their emotional state.

3. Empathize with the customer

When a customer is upset or angry, it’s important to show them that you genuinely care about their concerns. A great way to show empathy is by acknowledging their feelings, and letting them know that you understand why they are upset. Use phrases like “I can totally understand how frustrating this must be for you” or “I’m sorry that this has caused you so much inconvenience.”

4. Stay calm and professional

This can be easier said than done, especially when emotions are running high on both ends of the conversation. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is just another challenging situation that you’re fully capable of handling. Remembering your training and experience will help you stay grounded.

Choose your words carefully and speak calmly and clearly. Use positive language whenever possible to reassure the customer that their concerns matter to you – and the organization. Avoid getting drawn into arguments or taking things personally – remember that your goal is to find a resolution and not engage in conflict.

5. Clarify the issue

Once the customer has finished speaking, summarize their concerns back to them in a calm and composed manner. This not only demonstrates that you’ve been listening to everything they had to say, but also ensures that both parties are on the same page on what needs to be addressed.

If there are any misunderstandings or confusion about certain aspects of the problem, ask open-ended questions for clarification.

Clarifying doesn’t mean challenging or contradicting the customer’s statements. Avoid using phrases like “That’s incorrect” or “I disagree.” Instead, use phrases like “Help me understand…” or “Can you please explain further?”

6. Offer resolutions

Offering multiple resolutions allows the customer to feel empowered and involved in finding a suitable solution. By giving them options, you demonstrate flexibility and willingness to accommodate their needs. This approach increases the chances of reaching an agreement that leaves everybody satisfied. Don’t forget to seek confirmation from the customer, before moving forward with the proposed solution.

Dealing with Irate Customers Pays Rich Dividends

Remember when you approach an angry customer with a certain sensitivity,  it helps build rapport and trust. This can lead to smoother interactions in the future and even turn disgruntled customers into loyal ones. From a business perspective, dealing with irate customers properly is crucial for maintaining a positive brand image.

But let’s not forget about the most important party here — the customer! By treating an upset customer with respect and actively listening to their frustrations, you show them that their voice is being heard. You have a chance to take this negative experience and transform it into a happy and positive one, purely through the quality of your service.

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