Jun
28th
2008

How to Diffuse Angry Call Center Customers



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Unfortunately, the downside of working in a call center is that if a customer takes the time to call you, it’s probably because they’re unhappy about something.  The way you reply can make the difference between a situation that’s resolved amicably and one that escalates into something worse.  Sometimes there’s very little you can do to manage a customer that refuses to calm down, but there are some basic steps you can take to diffuse stressful situations.

Stay Calm, and Don’t Forget to Breathe

When someone is angry, their first goal will be to get you to respond in a similar fashion.  This will give them an excuse to feel even angrier and justify their initial sentiment.  If you feel yourself getting angry or tensing up, chances are the customer will be able to feel it and continue to escalate the situation.  Take a deep breath, and remind yourself to stay calm.  If you have to put the customer on hold for a few seconds to take regain control, it’s best to do so early on.

Evaluate the Customers Tone and Decide on Your Own

Even if an angry customer can’t get you to take the bait, they may keep trying.  They may yell or use words and a tone of voice that will work on your nerves in a subtle way.  Once again, recognizing what’s happening is the key to keeping yourself calm and in control.  The best thing to do is maintain a neutral tone and speak clearly.  Do not yell back or mirror the customer’s inflammatory words.

Let Them Wind Down

Sometimes a customer is angry because they have many other stressful things going on in their lives.  Even if you and the company you represent aren’t the cause of their problems, they may still try to take their aggression out on you.  In these situations, it’s best to simply let them talk themselves out.  While this may take several minutes and go through a number of cycles, eventually they’ll come to a stop and try to work with you to solve the problem they called about.

Remind Them to be Civil

As a call center representative, you aren’t obligated to accept foul language or personally derogatory comments.  If such an event occurs, stop and take a deep breath.  When you speak again, make sure that your voice is steady and soft.  Politely tell the customer that you do not tolerate this type of language and that you’ll hang up on them if use such language again.

Pass Them to Another Representative

If you find that the customer is getting increasingly angry, it may be best to pass them on to another representative.  Sometimes a second person with a different style can bring out the more cooperative side of an angry customer.  Of course, when all else fails, it’s important to realize that there can and will be times when you simply have to hang up the phone and file an incident report with your supervisor – after all, you can’t reach everyone.

When you work in a call center, it’s important to realize that you’re representing a business, so your mannerisms should be professional at all times.  In particular, when you’re dealing with an angry customer, you’ll need to make every effort to stay calm and diffuse the situation as efficiently as possible – even if all you want to do is yell back.

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