Angry Customers Part 1 – No Magic Pill

Magic_pillFor the next week or two I’m training reps for a client on handling irate callers. "How do you handle angry customers?" is the most requested training topic our group receives from clients. Through the years, I’ve learned that many Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) are searching for is a magic pill that will work to calm every angry call down in every circumstance and help them elude the physical, mental, and emotional reactions that inherently come with a conflictive situation. Good luck with that. While we’re at it, here’s a map for finding the Holy Grail.

There are a lot of great tips, tricks and tactics for handling angry customers. I’ll be sharing some of the best of them in a series of posts over the next week or two. But, before start out on our journey through this topic, it’s important to understand this very truth: there are no magic pills for handling angry customers. There are very effective skills that, when applied correctly, will often work to de-escalate an angry caller and help you manage the conflict to a successful conclusion. However, there will always be those few callers who are angry, who want to be angry, and who refuse to be reasonable. The most skilled CSR can do everything in their power to turn that customer and the customer will still walk away in a huff.

It’s important, as we proceed to explore this topic, that you remember my "#1 Rule of Customer Service": "Do the best you can with what you have." If you fall back to a position of believing that "every customer just wants to be angry and there is nothing I can do about it," then you are making an excuse for not doing your job. You must approach every caller with the desire to do the best you can for him or her, believing that you can and will resolve their issue and leave them "wowed" by the way you capably served her or him. If you, indeed, do the absolute best that you can for your customer, there will still be a few who walk away angry and unsatisfied. That’s the nature of the business. Try to learn from the experience (e.g. "What could I have done differently?" "Is there another tactic I could have tried?" "Was I missing someting?"), shake the dust off, and move on.

We all want a magic formula for making money, losing weight, staying young, and finding the perfect mate. Despite what late night infomercials promise, we all know in our gut that the magic just doesn’t exist. Welcome to the reality of handling angry customers.

Now, let’s get to work….

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and mankissingbird

  2 comments for “Angry Customers Part 1 – No Magic Pill

  1. November 9, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Great post Tom, and interesting problem highlighted here. Thanks for your thoughtful insights — which we can always count on:-)
    In addition to your comments here, I think that phones are becoming a structural problem that stir anger more than they need to.
    Increasingly, I am asked to listed to up to 10 minutes of rather poorly written prose, which a huge dose of personal ads for the firm, and rarely a number I can punch that deals with the reason I called.
    I too, like many folks on the phone, have to tame the amygdala, by the time I trick the system through to a living voice. I think we are heading in a scary direction, and look to experts like you to help make changes in this horror trend.
    What can be done to cheer callers up, by offering them a phone system with interaction opportunities rather than long, irrelevant lectures. Phones are becoming more about the firm’s convenience and far less about engaging clients’ concerns.
    Or am I just calling all the wrong numbers?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: