One of the best pieces of advice you can ever give the members of your customer service team is to avoid letting their feelings control their actions. This is particularly true when engaged in defusing angry customers. An irate call actually represents an opportunity to win a customer for life—when handled smoothly. Bungled, it can cost you that customer, as well as everyone with whom that person ever comes into contact. Here’s how to create the best chance to accomplish the former.
Never Kill Your Chill
Fighting fire with fire only creates bigger fires. Train your customer service reps(CSRs) to stay calm, regardless of the customer’s attitude, tone of voice, or words. Keep in mind they’re upset because of the situation, not because of anything over which you have personal control, or anything about you—unless you get emotional too. Personal feelings should be discarded when CSRs settle at their desks and begin to take calls. Cool, calm and collected will carry the day. In most cases, when they hear your quiet tones, they’ll realize how strident they sound and relax too.
Radiate Genuine Sincerity
Train your people to speak in soothing tones and mean it. Customers know false concern when they hear it and will be irritated. While it’s OK to use scripts to teach, get your CSRs off of the scripts and using their own words before allowing them to take calls. Reading from a script sounds insincere and angry customers will respond negatively. It’s also easier for your people to sound empathetic when speaking their own words. An especially effective way to get people to calm down, empathy also lets them know someone who cares is addressing their problem.
Listen Carefully and Apologize Warmly
Whether you sell electronics, furniture, makeup or ebooks, you should always behave as if you believe the customer is always right. This means you can apologize for their inconvenience as well as their disappointment. Be quiet and listen actively while they explain their concerns. When they’re done, apologize and repeat the situation back to them so they know you heard them and understood. By the way, do not say, “I’m sorry”. Instead,say, “I apologize”. Saying you’re sorry brings emotion into the equation. Apologizing is more professional and more appropriate. After all, you did nothing personally to wrong the person.
Offer Solutions Rather Than Excuses
When someone is attacking your company, your first impulse will be to defend. Resist it. Let them say what they have to say. Even if you know the issue was with a vendor, a delivery person or some other outside force, you have a responsibility to this person. Own it and tell them what you’re going to do to put things back on track.
If You Must Do So, Hand Them Off Personally
While you should try to resolve every problem yourself, sometimes the customer would be better served speaking with someone else in your organization. if you find this to be the case, do not put them on hold. They probably got to you after “Pressing one to speak to …” and waiting.
Putting them on hold yet again could make matters worse. Instead, explain you need to bring in another person and do it while the customer is still on the line. Explain the circumstances surrounding the call to your co-worker and ask the customer to verify this is indeed their issue. When you’re satisfied your colleague understands the issue, assure them they are talking to the right person, wish the customer well and bow gracefully out of the call.
The common thread here is treating the customer with respect and consideration as you work to resolve their problem.Your goal should always be to make the customer feel important. Defusing angry customers this way will win you their loyalty for life.