Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How to deal with irate customers

5 steps to handle other people's frustration in the Call Center

1. Accept that it will wear you out
People tend to say things that are damaging and can really help build us up or completely wear us out. One of the things to handling other people's frustration is recognizing that you may feel disappointed by other people's lack of concern for you because you care more than they do. What I have realized by these frustrated customers is that they have lost all sense of control. It is not that it doesn't affect me but that it hinders us working together towards a solution. You can only help people that want to be helped. If people continue to argue with you it is obvious they don't care about you and therefor are unable to show any real sense of dignity. You may feel like you want to quit but just realize that you are better than them by not stooping to their level of poor behavior. It's okay to be frustrated but it's not okay to take it out on someone else. It is very common to get frustrated with someone who is expressing their frustration an in unproductive way. There is a right way to express it that can be worked through but some people are unwilling to work through it. It is hard to work with someone who is unwilling to work with you.

2. Recognize the difficulty of irate customers
Some people are adamant about what they want and how they want it. Times I have felt like "I can't take this". How do I resolve this conflict? These issues arise because people are unwilling to see eye to eye. No matter how hard you try people just won't get on the same page with you and it is frustrating I understand that. The key word here is empathy. But even still I have displayed all the empathy in the world and still get chewed out. The thing about overcoming your frustration is venting to someone that really cares or dealing with the issue in your mind and coming up with a solution that works for you. Some people will go off on a tirade just because they can. Now because you are the one getting the brunt of the impact it may feel like you can't take it. Believe me I have been there and I know how it feels. For me it has always been about giving Great Customer Service the best possible service I can offer. Now you may be thinking "but what about what they did to me?". Well time heals old wounds and eventually you will get over it. A lot of grief will go away after about a day but some of the deeper wounds can make weeks or months to fully recover. Understand that you did the best you can and nobody can ask for more than that.

3. Be willing to help
Going the extra mile to help a customer out is always essential. It can be very difficult to problem solve and think clearly when you have someone yelling at you to get things done. What I have found is that sometimes it is best to just place them on hold or escalate them to a supervisor if you just can't take the heat cold transfer them to someone else who may be better able to handle them. Sometimes all it takes is a good solution for them to calm down. If you spend all your time arguing you are going to get nowhere fast. You also have to think what is good for the business too. Putting the customer on mute to badmouth them behind their back is never a good way to handle your customer's frustrations. It is best to sometimes to just be the better person and bypass the angry and simply help them the best you can. If the customer is unwilling to listen don't even waste your time just give them their options and ask them if there was anything else they needed since they keep going in circles. It can be aggravating even for experienced agents who have been doing it for years. Don't simply tell the customers what they want to hear just tell them what the company can do and that's it. I know sometimes people say they aren't angry with you personally or don't take it personally but that just doesn't prove true here. What is true is that it is personal this is your call and someone is attacking your happy place of peace and contentment. Now some people play favorites and actually pick and choose who they prefer to handle their issue.

4. Take one for the team
Customers will hang up in your face, cuss you out, mistreat you, and be just plain rude. The rude customers are the ones that are the hardest to deal with I have noticed. The irate customers who are extremely angry and demanding to speak to a supervisor are easier to help than the rude customers who aim their attacks at you as a person. I have had my day ruined by simply some comments that someone made with me on the phone. It can be very traumatizing. One of the worst things is trying to get over a verbal attack that you know hit closer to home. When you feel emotionally hurt that is a key sign that you need to watch what you think. Sometimes my Moto has been "take one for the team". The steps to de-escalating an angry customer is saying "I'm Sorry", showing empathy, watching what you say, offer solutions and don't sound dumbfounded, and asking more questions. There is no way to de-escalate a rude customer they are just totally out of control. What does work is getting them off your line as soon as possible. Your work load that day can be so stressful that you can't think of what to say but my best advice is to take a moment to place them on hold so you can think.

5. Be detail-oriented
Watch what you say and how you say. Some people get so upset simply by the way things were put. It is not your fault you don't know how you are coming off or how you sound on the other end. You can't listen to yourself and you can't discern whether or not you have an attitude. What you can discern is whether or not you are in a bad mood, having a bad day, stressed, or just plain worn out by this customer. Try to follow these steps and you will become better.