Handling Irate Clients Over the Telephone

Angry woman screaming on the phone

Customer satisfaction is one of the highest priorities of all business owners.  This sometimes might include talking to clients who, for one reason or another, are upset and/or angry.  One can learn tactics for dealing with irate customers over the telephone.  Having these skills makes an individual a valuable asset to any organization.

1.  Actively listen:  Allow customers to vent and explain the problem(s) and/or reason(s) behind their anger.  While they are talking, indicate you are listening by making quick comments that help assure the customers you are hearing them out.  Give the client as much time as possible to discuss their complaints so they can calm down and you can more effectively help them.  Let your clients express their feelings in the ways that best suit them, and refrain from passing judgement.

2.  Act professionally and respectfully at all times:  Only intervene on customer complaint calls when your customer’s abuse becomes directed toward you.  Should this happen, calmly tell the client you can understand why he or she is frustrated about what happened, but also tell them personal attacks toward you cannot resolve the situation, since you want to help him or her out.

3.  Always be sympathetic and empathetic:  Always ensure your clients are aware you understand why they are angry, and take responsibility for errors made by the company, such as “I am sorry we made that mistake.  Let me help resolve this matter for you.”  Recognize and understand your customers’ feelings related toward the mishaps caused by your business.  Put yourself in the customers’ shoes to gain a better understanding of why they are upset.

4.  Ask questions to better help resolve their problems:  After the customer completes their story, make sure you ask about all relevant facts to the matter.  Know when the time is right to ask your client open-ended types of questions, and the more simple “yes” or “no” questions.

5.  Apologize to your customers when appropriate:  Apologies are often interpreted as admissions of guilt.  There are three types of apologies:  Direct, Blameless, and Fake.  As you might expect, “Direct” apologies are the most effective, as they are considered the most sincere.  “Blameless” apologies are those that try to deflect the blame to another source, while “Fake” apologies amount to little more than “I am sorry you are sorry…”

6.  Offer to try and help resolve the problem:  Always offer to try and resolve the problem, but never guarantee the client you are certain you can fix the matter.  If you do the latter, and you make an attempt that fails, this will result in additional customer complaints.

7.  Confirm progress was made toward resolving the matter: Consult with your client and mutually agree on what was accomplished in the call.  Even if this call failed to fully resolve the issue, make sure your customer confirms attempts were made and steps were taken toward resolving the matter.  For more tips on dealing with angry customers over the telephone, read the article here.

Have Questions? Give us a call