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Handling Irate Customer Calls

In a past issue of supportEDGE we looked at some ways to handle an abusive customer call. But sometimes the customer is simply upset or angry, not abusive, and it would be a mistake to handle those two types of customer calls in the same way.

A customer might be upset for a number of reasons. They may have repeatedly attempted a solution on their own with no success. They may have a stringent deadline that they have to meet. Or they may have been “set off” by something you said or the way you said it. Whatever the reason for the upset, there are some telltale signs that will help you identify points of conflict as they arise. You’ll want to take pause if you notice any of the following symptoms during the call:

  • There is a change in the customer’s tone of voice (they’re speaking a little louder than they used to).
  • There is a change in the customer’s rate of speech (they’re speaking at a faster rate of speech, or they are speaking much more slowly and deliberately than they they were before).
  • The suddenly customer withdraws or becomes quiet.

When one or more of these symptoms occurs, it’s time to change the way you’re communicating with the customer. So, when you sense that the customer is becoming upset, you’ll need to lessen the impact of the conflict. Here are some suggestions for dealing with this situation when it arises:

  • Don’t interrupt
  • Let the customer vent
  • Be empathetic and respectful
  • Offer assistance in the form of alternatives
  • Remain positive and professional

The key to dealing with this type of customer is to stave off an argument. No one will win if the customer is upset and you’re defensive. But if you resolve not to push the customer, they’ll eventually calm down.

Watch the associated video!

Well that wraps up this edition of the SupportEDGE video blog. Until next time be sure all your support activities are customer-centered, performance-driven, and outcomes-based.

~ES

Eric Svendsen, Ph.D., is principal and lead consultant of SCInc., a learning and development consulting company. Eric has over 20 years experience in creating and executing results-oriented, outcomes-based learning and development initiatives aligned to corporate goals. He specializes in leadership development and coaching, and leading organizational culture-change initiatives around customer support and safety leadership. Eric was personally involved in the development of certification standards, performance standards, exam validation, competency models and training for the customer-support and technical-support industry, and was instrumental in the creation of the only performance-based certification in that industry.

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