Training Call Center Employees to Deal With Irate Customers

a Your call center employees are more than familiar with the sound of an irate customer. They pick up the phone and the yelling ensues. Or, in some cases, the customer starts off calm but gets worked up as the call progresses.

Dealing with irate customers is an unfortunate reality for call center employees, but the employee almost always has power to diffuse the situation. The difference between a customer who walks away happy and one who vows never to patronize your business again? Properly training call center employees to talk the person off the ledge.

Properly trained, call center employees can turn an irate customer into a loyal one in a matter of minutes. It’s amazing how quickly customers change their minds when they reach someone who is understanding, polite and offers a viable solution.

It All Starts With Hiring

Granted, this blog is about training call center employees, but we’d be remiss not to talking about best hiring practices. Hiring the right people is crucial to creating a call center that promotes the best possible customer experience.

Consider screening your candidates with a personality test such as the Predictive Index (PI). These tests are not meant to be pass-fail, per se, but they give hiring managers insight into a potential employee’s disposition. If a candidate scores high in the dominance category, for example, you probably want to question that person during the interview about what that means. Is the person simply assertive and self-confident, or does the candidate have a short fuse?

The Art of the Apology

Empathy goes a long way when it comes to dealing with irate customers. The first step in training call center employees to deal with angry customers is instructing them to use the right language – and to genuinely put themselves in the customer’s shoes.

ea0f105576766dcf1449b982755b0028Schedule a team meeting to do some role playing. Talk to call center employees about the types of complaints they hear most often and brainstorm the best possible responses. You don’t want employees to sound too scripted, but you do want them to have some general responses prepared to show irate customers that they’re sympathetic.

Responses that work well include:

  • “I understand why you’re frustrated. I would be upset if that happened, too.”
  • “I’m sorry you had a bad experience. How can I make it better?”
  • “Tell me what happened and we’ll find a solution.”

Encourage your employees not to take it personally when customers are irate. The customer is mad at the company, not them. Sometimes the customer just needs to vent, and they want to know the person on the other end of the phone genuinely cares. The key is training call center employees to stay calm and really listen.

Training Call Center Employees to Strike a Deal

Empathy is a great first step, but it doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. Angry customers want to see that the customer service representative is taking steps to resolve the problem. Start by training call center employees on all the available options for dispute resolution, including discounts, credits and/or expedited service.

One thing that’s important: empowering call center agents to offer some kind of reasonable concession or offer without seeking supervisor permission. The last thing an angry customer wants to do is wait on hold or be bounced around from one employee to the next. Focus on training call center employees to act quickly and appropriately. Can they offer a 10 percent discount on the purchase or free installation, if applicable?

It goes without saying that not every customer can be pleased, but investing time in training call center employees on best practices for dealing with irate customers goes a long way toward ensuring that an unhappy customer is not a lost customer.

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