Everyone gets them. They’re difficult to serve, and your best customer service program bounces off them like a rubber ball. When they’re through with your contact center team members, morale can be in the basement.
Irate customers are a fact of life for contact center employees. And while every solid call center should have clear customer service goals and a good performance review process in place, no matter how you strive to make an emotional connection in helping callers, irate customers are inevitable.
The good news is that irate calls are still amenable to management. Here are a few effective communication tips to think about when you come in contact with an irate customer.
Granted, dealing with an irate caller can be as pleasant as a root canal, but behind the pit bull, there just might be a real area where you can improve. By cultivating a dispassionate view of the caller’s problem (rather than the caller’s attitude) a complaint can turn into an opportunity to improve contact center performance.
In dealing with unhappy callers, a self-confident approach can soothe customers who fear they are not being helped. But there is a fine line between a calm, self-confident contact center team member and one that comes across as arrogant or condescending. Since not everyone naturally has the ability to strike the right balance, instituting a communications component in your training program specifically dealing with angry customers is a good way to help your team cope.
Contact center team members should stay calm and remember not to take the matter personally. By putting emotions aside, they work from the position of strength. If the conversation gets off track, maybe offer some words of encouragement and bring the topic of conversation back to the main problem.
Be sure to convey that contact center team members are indeed listening to an angry customer’s concerns. By making ‘listening noises’ and repeating back to the customer their problem, you can inspire conviction that your team member is trying to help. Conveying sympathy is a means of making that critical emotional connection. The feeling of being understood and taken seriously will bring back repeat customers.
Actively attempting to understand the caller’s point of view is the key to forming a plan of action. By asking questions and staying focused on the problem rather than the unpleasant caller, a resolution can usually be found. Once again, sympathize, and if you have to, run through the entire problem, step by step, from beginning to end, to ensure you have all the information you need to resolve the issue. This will also assure the caller that their problems are being heard and taken care of.
The customer is always right – and sometimes that means the company is at fault. Where a mistake has been made, owning up and admitting to it can go a long way towards deflating a heated situation.
You want to keep customers happy, but not at the expense of business objectives. This means that an angry customer, even if in the wrong, can be mollified with a concession – it makes better business sense to establish a reputation for customer service and professionalism, even if this means giving way.
Because of one of these customers, it is critical to have training in place so that team members are aware of what latitude exists and how and when it is to be used. Having an ace up their sleeve can be the best means of producing the calm, confident contact center team that excels at soothing an irate customer.
A follow-up call a day later to ensure than the customer has received a satisfactory resolution to their problem is a great way to build a strong relationship with a customer base.
Having a process in place to manage irate customers is a critical piece of any contact center’s training program. By changing the ethos of team response from a defensive posture to a proactive attempt to guide an unhappy caller through a process of identifying and then resolving problems, a bump in the path becomes an opportunity to increase customer satisfaction.