Strategies for Handling Irate Callers
job entails taking calls from unhappy, irate callers, you’ve got
your work cut out for you. Many
of us are vulnerable to outbursts from callers who are already going
through an emotional, stressful time.
these calls takes time and training, but it can be accomplished
effectively. Here are some
service recovery techniques for turning unhappy callers into satisfied
Understand the Source of the Anger - Realize that angry callers are
not unhappy with you, just the situation.
Don’t take a caller’s hostility personally.
You are the lightning rod, not the target.
You can do
a great deal to diffuse a caller’s anger before you even pick up the
By smiling before you answer that call.
A smile can really be “heard” over the phone.
It’s difficult to be rude to someone who’s warm and
Use the ASAP Technique - Here is my ASAP technique for handling
Acknowledge the person’s feelings and apologize for the
inconvenience the caller has encountered.
Make an effort to be sincere.
In today’s impersonal society, it’s incredibly rare to hear
the words “I’m sorry that happened.
Let me get the ball rolling to fix it.”
You’ll probably spend about 80 percent of your time massaging
the caller’s feelings and 20 percent actually solving the problem.
Sympathize and empathize with the caller.
Phrases like, “I can understand why you’re upset,” help
soothe ruffled feathers. Pretend
it is you calling. Then
get busy solving the caller's problem.
Accept 100 percent responsibility for the call.
This is probably the toughest part.
Chances are you had nothing to do with the problem.
However, it is your job to accept responsibility and initiate a
Prepare to help. Begin
by reintroducing yourself. Callers
don’t usually remember your name.
State that you will be able to help.
Use the caller’s name, if possible, which helps diffuse the
anger. A willing attitude
is essential because if the caller senses insincerity or indifference,
he will stay angry. It’s
exasperating to file a complaint with someone who obviously doesn’t
No Excuses - Never make an excuse to a complaining caller.
No one wants to hear, “The computer is down,” or “I’m
the only one here.” That
is your problem, not the caller’s.
When you give an excuse, the caller hears, “I’m not going
to help you now.”
Escalating a Call - Sometimes you are not able to solve the problem
on the spot. Many times
you need more information from another department.
Perhaps the call needs to be handled by another person.
Although these are legitimate courses of action, they usually
upset your caller again.
need more information, explain that to your caller.
Ask him if he is able to hold while you obtain it, or if he
would prefer a call back. Avoid
untrue phrases like, “Hold on a sec.”
Nothing takes a second.
need to transfer a caller, let him know the name of the person to whom
he or she will be speaking. Give
a reason why you are bringing in a third party.
“Joe, Mrs. Smith in our claims department is the real expert
in resolving your type of problem.
Let me transfer you directly to her.”
Swear Stopper Technique - Unfortunately, there are callers who are
firmly convinced that abusive language is their only recourse.
Try my “swear stopper” technique.
Say to the caller in a firm, but pleasant voice, “Excuse me,
I can help you with your problem, but I’m not able to handle your
this wording, you are taking control of the conversation.
Then immediately start asking questions that will help solve
the problem. This helps
you stay in control of the conversation.
these techniques and see how quickly you start handling complaint
calls more effectively. Then
see how good you feel about yourself; you’ll be doing your job
better than ever before!
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