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How to Handle Agitated and Verbally Abusive Callers

By Edited Sep 18, 2016 1 0

A call center environment guarantees a fun working backdrop. But don't expect the job to be a walk in the clouds, because it is not! And handling agitated callers and verbally abusive callers is absolutely one of the reasons why. Notice that I intently separated them; because one may be independent from the other.

EXPECT THE WORST.

Realistically speaking, more people call customer service hotlines to complain more than anything else. This is a concept that is difficult to acknowledge, but once you do, it's very liberating. Expect every customer to be very agitated, unsatisfied and ungrateful no matter how much you want to help them. Expect them to yell, interrupt you when you are speaking and sometimes sound very sarcastic even when answering the easiest security question. Not all customers are like the ones I defined, of course. But you do that because once you set your expectations to these circumstances; anything else is just a piece of cake.

HANDLING THE MOST DIFFICULT CALLERS.

The key to any of these situations is to (write this down and remember it!) NOT MAKE IT PERSONAL. Yes, they may be screaming at the top of their lungs. Yes, they may be threatening to cancel their services. Yes, they may even be aggressively and verbally abusing you. And most of the time, intimidate you with personally suing the company, and in some cases suing you. But this is (say it with me!) NOT PERSONAL. Imagine this; you and the customers are all stuck. They are stuck with the products and services they are complaining about from their service provider and you are stuck with your job for at least eight hours a day. That basically evens out the playing field. But the only difference is that YOU are getting paid and THEY are paying the company! Hah! See it from that perspective you will stop whining about how rude they were. Always acknowledge their frustrations, emphasize your intent in assisting them. And please avoid repeatedly apologizing to them, most customers feel more frantic and annoyed when you keep on doing that. Stop asking questions that were already queried by somebody from another department, check your resources like the notations on their profile/accounts! Follow up on their concerns if needed be. And don't leave them hanging without completely resolving their problem and making sure that they have fully satisfied with the resolution.

VERBALLY ABUSIVE CUSTOMERS.

Now that we have addressed that, it is only fair that we consider the verbal abuse we get from our customers. Normally every customer service providers have their own policies concerning verbally abusive customers. The general rule of thumb is giving them three warnings that you have authority to terminate the call if they continue to use foul words; and if it does continue, then you terminate the call with a policy mandated verbatim.

But believe it or not, verbal abuse can be prevented completely; or at the very least, avoid the situation where you have to terminate the call. The entire approach of making this possible should start with the management and leadership teams. Strategizing to achieve the best customer service correlating it to the policies will produce more satisfied customers. Moreover, providing their people with much needed trainings and continuous development of its call handling and negotiating skills will lessen agitated customers. As far as you are concerned, adhering and complying with such improvement trainings is your responsibility. Furthermore, make sure that when conversing with customers, who are already agitated at the onset of the conversation, you conduct yourself in the most confident and professional way possible. When you are communicating company policies and processes, just be clear, straight forward and sincere about it. If they are still abusive, one of the easiest strategies is the higher their voices are… the lower yours is. This will force them to lower down their voice to hear what you are saying, because most of the time, they are just reacting to the statements you are giving them.

Ultimately, our goal is still to resolve their problems and so mismanaging agitated callers or terminating the call of a verbally abusive customer… defies that purpose. All it really takes for us to overcome the challenges of defeating these inevitable situations is to understand the situation on their perspective as customers who are paying for the services. And then take it from there. You want to try them out on your next irate caller?

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