The Art of Thick-Skin
For inbound call center agents, angry, hostile callers are a fact of life. Front line agents are unanimous in their verdict – stressed out callers are nerve-racking!
They also contribute to the high agent turnover common to call centers.
On the other hand, the customer is always right – even if their words (or volume) are not…right?
So how do you handle difficult callers?
- You Are the Face of the Company
The caller is frustrated, angry and lashing out. In their eyes, the front line agents are the face of the Company.
- Listen to the Caller
Listen more than talk. Choose a calm tone to match the customer’s emotional state.
- Don’t be a Robot
Be empathetic. Whatever the issue, it’s a major source of frustration for the customer. Be understanding and compassionate, and remember: the customer likely feels they are investing a lot of time into this – which is another source of frustration for them.
- Stay Polite & Helpful
Keep your anger under control, and don’t ever hang up on a customer! However, there are typically call center policies on when ending a call may be acceptable (there’s a pretty clear line between difficult, upset callers and those who launch into sexist, racist or threatening outbursts).
- It Isn’t Personal…
Keep your own frustration in check! Try explaining your position to them in a different way, or keep looking for a reasonable solution that meets the customer’s needs.
- …but if it Becomes Personal, Pass the Call.
If it does get personal on the call, hand it off to a fellow rep or supervisor who can try a different approach to diffuse the situation. Sometimes, just the feeling that they have progressed through the system to another agent improves cooperation with frustrated callers.
- Finally, Take a Deep Breath.
It’s over! They aren’t fun, but angry customers are a fact of life in the business world. Be sure to find ways that work for you to control stress and maintain your sanity.