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