With Christmas and New Year’s approaching fast, the phones are ringing off the hook at your retail call center with stressed out angry customers doing last minute shopping. You find yourself on the firing line, being called everything from “incompetent” to “negligent”, enduring threats of customers doing business elsewhere and incessant questioning as to where their order is, when it will be arriving and is it in the color and size they wanted. You are tempted to tell them that they could have avoided all this stress by not waiting until the last minute to do their shopping, but that would defy the “service” aspect of customer service. Besides, the company you work for relies on this rush of business close to the holidays.
Dealing with angry customers is a necessary evil in customer support jobs. But knowing that it’s simply part of the job doesn’t always help in the heat of the moment when you are being insulted over the phone or face to face, even if you did nothing wrong. Dealing with angry customers is an art, and like any other artistic skill, it gets better with practice. Below are some helpful suggestions that can go a long way in turning your customer’s frustrations around:
1) Don’t show your feelings
Resist the instinct to react emotionally when dealing with angry customers; it is likely to only fuel the fire, get them more upset, and prolong the heated interaction. While it may feel like they are attacking you, you are simply the most convenient person for them to take out their frustrations on. Whatever their issue is, it will be solved much easier in a calm manner.
2) Validate their concerns
One of the most important skills of customer support jobs is being a good listener. An angry customer is more likely to calm down if they feel they are being listened to and receiving empathy. Acknowledge that you understand their frustration (no matter how trivial the issue is that is causing the frustration) and ask them a couple questions to get to the bottom of what is causing their anger.
3) Apologize if the situation calls for it
Mistakes are bound to happen in any job, and especially in the chaos of the holiday season. So if you or your company is at fault, simply take accountability. If there was no mistake made on your end, a great way of dealing with angry customers is to say something like “I’m very sorry you feel that way,” so you are acknowledging the customer’s frustration without taking unnecessary blame.
4) Solve the problem
To reassure the customer that they don’t need to worry, do whatever you can find a solution to will resolve not only the problem they are having now, but also prevent it from happening in the future. If you don’t have the power to solve their problem, put them in touch with a supervisor that can assist them further.
5) Take care of yourself
It’s hard to give quality customer support when you are hungry, overtired or overwhelmed. It’s amazing how much nicer people can seem and easier your job is to do when you are feeling good physically. So be sure to eat, get a good night’s sleep and take regular breaks to clear your mind before dealing with the next task.
6) Don’t bring it home
Dealing with angry customers isn’t easy, but remember that you are only one person and unfortunately don’t have the power to please everyone all the time. And chances are, the customer is simply projecting their frustration in other areas of their life onto you and you have absolutely nothing to do with their anger. So at the end of the day, clock out and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.
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