They may have just watched their basement fill with sewage water.
They may be getting pressure from their boss to get the server delivered by tomorrow.
They may be standing right next to a child who’s tearfully clutching a broken teddy bear.
Regardless of the reason, there’s no denying that everybody has their limits, and there’s no telling what it will take to turn a polite, rational person into an anxious, aggressive, difficult caller once they pick up that phone.
However, the call doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience for the caller, or the agent. With these simple tips, you can transform an irate caller into your biggest fan.
Be Patient: you are not the root of their problem. They are not actually angry at you. They’re just upset and you just happen to be the person they called for help. If you take their anger personally, you may become biased, or even clash with the caller, which WOULD make you part of their problem. Don’t interrupt, don’t try to argue. Just listen. They called you for a concrete reason besides venting, and they’ll get to that eventually. But letting them there at their own pace is something they’ll certainly appreciate.
Be Sympathetic: You call an adjuster to place an insurance claim. You call a plumber to unclog a drain. You call a doctor for medical assistance. But regardless of what you need, the person on the other line is a human being, and if the caller just went through a difficult experience, they may just need you to be a human being first, and an Customer Service Receptionist second. Ask if they’re alright; tell them you’re sorry for their troubles. Don’t just mechanically jump into scripted questions. Is that what YOU would want in their place?
Be Reassuring: If your caller just broke their leg while escaping a burning kitchen, they might not be feeling too optimistic. They may be doubtful that you want to, or even can, help them. This is your chance to shine. You know what needs to be done and how to do it. Be upfront about how you can help, about the extra steps you can take in particular situations, and then get to work. They’ll know you’re a pro, and that’s comforting.
Be Accurate: At the end of the day, nothing will turn a caller around more than knowing that a professional is helping them. So while we always strive for precision and meticulousness here, it’s even more crucial that you get every detail right.
They may be a little harder to follow due to their current emotions, so be attentive, and confirm the details as much as needed. All the goodwill in the world can’t save you if you spell the caller’s name or address wrong.
You may or may not get an apology or a thank you at the end of the call, but follow these steps, and you may be surprised that the person who started the call off so heated calls back the next day to sing your praises. You took a bad situation and turned it into a great customer service experience, and that makes everyone happy.