For 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….