Learn How to Handle Difficult Callers

While we’ve all heard the phrase “the customer is always right,” they’re not always the easiest people to deal with. In every business, there will come a time when a difficult customer calls and wreaks havoc in your once-peaceful office. This happens even more so inside a call center. Learning how to handle such callers is a crucial part of building and maintaining a successful business since businesses now revolve around customer service.

No matter what your business is, you’re bound to cross paths with an angry customer, even if you have the best products and services around. The best thing you can do for your business is have staff you train to resolve customer complaints and answer difficult callers. However, your goal shouldn’t end there. In this article, we’ll give you insights into valuable data relevant to turning customers’ frowns right-side-up, along with plenty of strategies and techniques for your customer service team.

Quick Facts

  • Up to 93% of customers lean towards making a repeat order from a company that provides them with excellent customer service.
  • 7 out of 10 Americans are willing to do business and spend more money on companies that deliver excellent service.
  • 33% of U.S. consumers say that they would consider switching companies after only one occasion of poor service.
  • According to HubSpot, Americans will tell 15 people about a bad customer experience, compared to 11 who’ll talk about good service.

Tips to Handle Difficult Callers

    1. Learn to Listen

      Before anything else, this is the most important rule in providing great customer service and handling hard calls. As a customer service representative, it’s your job to really listen to the client’s needs and what they’re trying to tell you. By doing this, you are showing genuine concern while gaining valuable information that will help you eventually solve the issue that they have. It’s also best to avoid the urge to cut them off or talk over them, even if it’s good news.

    2. Give Them Validation

      Most of the time, the only reason why a customer is screaming on the other side of the phone is that they want you to recognize that something is troubling them. Those who work in customer service tend to talk down to their customers because they don’t know what’s happening. They tend to say things like “calm down,” which is wrong. Instead, say, “You’re right—this is a problem, and we are going to find a solution” to make them feel validated.

    3. Don’t react emotionally

      Those who work at call centers will tell you that there is a fundamental rule to giving customer support: Don’t take anything personally. There will be times when callers will take your patience to its limit — don’t let that affect you. Instead, try to distance yourself from their anger and help them with an open mind since you’re there to solve their problem. The situation will only get worse if you choose to retaliate.

    4. Always be Pleasant

      If you have a difficult time sounding “nice” on the phone, you can spend some time practicing the tone of your voice, and you’ll also get better as you take more calls. Spend time practicing and maintaining a calm voice, no matter what the situation. Another trick is to smile while talking, even if the customer can’t see you. It’s been proven that smiling can change the tone of your voice and make it sound friendlier. The same applies to maintaining good posture. Sitting up straight can help you project confidence and assertiveness, which can have a calming effect on customers.

    5. Provide Multiple Solutions

      It’s great to provide your customer with a single solution that will surely answer their concerns if you have one. But having a backup solution if they don’t agree will be helpful. In addition, offering various solutions when it comes to complex matters can be a good option so that your customer can decide how they might want to proceed.

    6. Don’t Put Them on Hold

      Whenever possible, avoid putting your customers on hold (no one wants to wait on the phone during a busy day) because this may irritate them even more. If you absolutely need to check something or need to talk to someone in another department to provide a solution, try to get it done while staying on the line with your customer. When you absolutely must put a customer on hold, make sure to ask for their permission and thank them for their patience. Keep hold times to a minimum and check back in with the customer periodically to update them on the progress or to reassure them that you’re still there and working on their issue.

    7. Honesty is the Best Policy

      While it may be natural to tell the customer what they want to hear when you’re panicked, don’t try to get off the call as fast as possible. Do your best, to be honest, and don’t make any promises that you can’t keep. Because if you do, and the customer doesn’t get what they want, they’ll simply keep calling and harassing the business, or they’ll give up and give their business to another company. Your customer is looking for a real solution, and the best way to provide that is by avoiding vague terms, giving them the right information, or simply telling them that you can’t offer a solution right now but you will get back to them with an answer.

    8. Give Them Empathy

      Even if the customer is a complete stranger to you, and the problem they’re having may not personally affect you, you can (and should) show them empathy. Such a simple act can be a very effective tool to calm people down.

    9. Last Resort: Hang up

      There are times when you’ve exhausted all of your efforts and have gone through each and every one of the suggestions listed above. Even so, there might be a caller who refuses to calm down or is being mean for no reason. If you encounter someone who can’t reason with you, then it’s time to let them know that you’re hanging up the phone.

While there are other things to consider when handling difficult callers, these are some of the most important guidelines to teach your customer service team. By assessing situations and understanding customer complaints, your business will be able to reap more rewards when problems are resolved. To improve your customer service and get more positive reviews for your business, AnswerAide’s Virtual Assistants and Answering Service operators are trained to handle everyday regular and difficult callers and can help train your team to handle and ease the tension with difficult callers.