Tips for dealing with difficult customers on the phone (from the pros)

When an angry or difficult customer calls your place of business, it can be a frustrating ordeal for everyone. The customer is already frustrated, but it can be extremely unnerving for yourself or an employee to answer the phone only to be met with scolding, yelling or cursing on the other end of the line. But how you are able to deal with these calls says a lot about your customer service. Fortunately, there are some proven ways to help resolve such problems and help you maintain a loyal customer.

understanding operator

Here are a few tips from the pros at Touch Communications:

  1. Work quickly and efficiently

No one likes be wait for very long on hold. For this reason it is important never to keep your customers waiting too long. If they are already angry, then a long wait can make the situation worse. If they are calling to order a product or to book an appointment, a long wait might cause them to hang up and call your competition.

  1. Listen first

You may have heard the story before, but you haven’t heard it from THIS customer. So when someone calls in with a problem, listen to them without interrupted. Jot down notes as they talk, so you can ask for clarification later.

Remember, your customer’s goal is not really to yell or complain, but to get a solution to their problem. When you let them tell you their story without interrupting, it is the first step to making them feel that you are on their side and not against them.

  1. Empathize and Apologize

Even if the problem is not your fault, saying sorry that something happened, didn’t happen etc. can go a long way toward calming a disgruntled caller. Let the caller know that you will do your best toward helping them find a solution.

  1. Repeat their story back to them

Now that you’ve taken the time to listen to their story, make sure that you understand it – and that the customer knows you understand. Rephrase the issue back to them, and ask for more details about anything that is unclear.

This allows you and the customer to work together as members of the same team rather than as adversaries.

  1. Try to solve the problem

If you know how to solve the problem – such as sending them a replacement part, or scheduling a service call then do it.  If you’re unsure how to solve the problem, you may need to (briefly) put them on hold to consult with someone else on your team. Just be sure that you never promise something that you can’t deliver.

  1. Compensate the customer for the inconvenience

If all else fails, it never hurts to provide the customer with a freebie or discount. This is typically a last resort for most companies but it is worth doing if it is going to keep a loyal customer and stop negative word of mouth.

Remember that despite your best efforts, there will be occasions when you’ll get a call from an upset customer. How you handle that call however is up to you.


What makes call centres great? It’s their people!

At some point or another, we have all contacted call centres. Whether it is to do our banking, get assistance with an IT problem or to book a medical appointment, call centres have become part of our lives. Determining if your experience was a good one or a bad one, however, all comes down to one factor – the person who answered the telephone. Whether or not the person on the other end of the line was friendly, helpful and put you at ease was critical to the type of customer experience that you had.  After all, should you have a bad experience, you may never call back.

live call answering operator

Most call centres have similar equipment, similar processes in place and similar capabilities. What distinguishes a great call centre from one that is merely okay, is its people. That’s why here at Touch Communications, we consider our employees to be our most important resource and we actively seek out customer service representatives that will be able to provide the best customer experiences for our clients.

What do we look for when hiring customer service representatives?

An excellent telephone manner is, of course, key – but this is a skill that is (or should be) common to all call centres. At Touch Communications we are interested in finding candidates who also have great leadership skills, who can be empathetic to the needs of their callers and who have the analytical acumen necessary to help solve their problems.

Some of our clients require that our CSRs also be salespeople, and for this we look for people who are able to speak persuasively and who have a competitive side to them.

Finding such individuals goes beyond merely looking at previous positions and skills on their resume. We look for well-rounded people who are actively involved in their community. We understand that the better our employees connect with others outside the workplace, the better they will be able to connect with their callers.

We aim to hire the type of people you would hire

A call centre should be considered as an extension of your own business. In fact, when your customers get put through to a call centre, in most cases they should not even be aware that the person with whom they are speaking is not directly employed by you.

The customer service representative should answer the telephone with a script that was agreed upon by you and take the same appropriate action that you would take if you had answered the call yourself.

Because of this, we do our best to look for the same qualities in our employees that you would look for in your own.  Our customer service representatives are patient, have great communication skills, are adept at using the appropriate computer software, have good typing speed and are excellent multi-taskers.

These skills enable them to perform a variety of tasks such as knowing when to forward a call and when to take a message, setting up appointments on your behalf, and even providing sales services. Contracting with a call centre makes good business sense for a variety of reasons, but only if that call centre has excellent people working there. When you contract services from Touch Communications, you can be confident that our excellent people will provide excellent service.