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5 Steps to De-Escalate Angry Customer Calls

Everybody has had an experience with an angry customer. It’s frustrating and can lead to a lot of stress for both the employee and the customer, but there are ways you should and shouldn’t handle the situation when it arises. In his recent article, Jeff Toister discusses how customer service agents shouldn’t fight back by demanding the customer follow their procedures or talking down to them. Creating a barrier between you and the customer will ultimately create more anger from the customer. Toister says that this tactic is not always just an employee fighting back on their own out of anger, but it is often a strategy they were trained to use called “call control.”

Toister says that call control is a strategy where the contact center agents must attempt to resolve the customer issue quickly by following standard procedures and workflows, being directive with the customer, and exercising authority before escalating to a supervisor. The problem with this tactic is it can be more infuriating to a customer who is already angry. Using workflows/procedures, being directive, and refusing to allow the customer to speak to a manager all cause more harm in a situation with an angry customer for the following reasons: 

  • The call center agent appears to be doing a robotic process, which seems like a lack of empathy for the customer’s needs.
  • The feeling of confrontation enters the situation and leads the customer to believe the employee is fighting with them instead of helping them.
  • The customer feels like the call center agent is only doing their strategy to stonewall them instead of solving the issue.

So, if call control isn’t a great option for dealing with difficult customer interaction, what option is there? Toister recommends training agents to calmly and patiently try to de-escalate the situation before trying to take back control of the call. This is a five-step process that includes listening to the customer’s issue, showing empathy for their situation, consoling them and demonstrating that you understand what they want, finding a way to relate to them so they feel like you want to help them, and eventually, actually solving the issue at hand. 

The key to difficult situations isn’t just fixing the customer’s issue as fast as possible; it’s first connecting with them on an emotional level. Customers don’t want you to just resolve the problem, they want to know you care and understand about why they’re angry. When customer service agents show genuine empathy and maintain a calm and helpful demeanor, they can then go on to successfully resolve customer complaints. The customer is already angry with the company, the product, or the service, so piling on procedures and making them angry with your company’s representatives on top of that will only lead to more challenging interactions. When companies train their call center agents to connect with customers on an emotional level, they’ll ultimately deliver a better overall customer experience.

This blog post is based on an article from CustomerThink. To read the original article, please click the link below: 

Angry Customers Just Get Angrier When You Do This – Jeff Toister

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