Listen Up! Maybe Your Customer Has a Right to Be Angry

Keep in mind that your customers have something at stake when they call you for service—namely money. We can all relate to wanting to protect our interests when we’re at the receiving end of an acquisition. Does your caller feel the quality of your products or services was misrepresented?  Does he or she disagree with company policy or procedure regarding returns or cancellations? As you know, there are nearly as many reasons for customer ire as there are items in your product line.

Whatever the cause for a caller’s anger—and whether or not it seems reasonable—contact center Communicators are tasked with turning these tense situations into valuable customer experiences. You want your customers to feel validated and appreciated at the end of their interactions—nothing less. Ideally, your Communicators will also end exchanges feeling positive and effective.

Surely your business has policies in place for handling irate customers. Communicators must know what they can offer customers independently or with a supervisor’s approval. On the flip side, they ought to understand limits imposed by the business. Most Communicator strategies involve resolving the issue and retaining the customer.

As I like to remind my Communicators, God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason: Listening twice as much as we talk gives us a chance to stay quiet long enough to allow our brains to properly interpret what customer are saying and better understand their needs.  So when we do open our mouths, our words will help build a stronger relationship as opposed to making the situation more volatile.

Before you attempt to defuse an angry caller, a good tactic is to let the person complete his tale of woe.  If not, then you won’t have the facts you need to understand the issue—never mind empathizing with or validating the customer’s concerns. And that’s what you want to do: acknowledge the caller’s state of mind and substantiate the complaint.

Remember that your customer didn’t come to you to complain, he or she came to you for assistance. Explore the problem to pinpoint the exact cause so you can formulate a solution. Tell the customer the steps you are taking to resolve the complaint. Take action immediately. Per business practice, reassure the customer that the problem is resolved according to their expectations and that it won’t reoccur in the future.

Before ending the call, ask the customer if the issue has been resolved to his or her satisfaction. If not, agree to take further steps, and then follow up.