Dealing with an Irate Caller
Nobody enjoys picking up the phone and finding that the person on the other end is angry. Whether it is a customer disappointed with merchandise or a client who is livid that your boss never returned his voice mail, it is no fun being the one put in the position to smooth things over. Your ability to handle such situations, however, can make you a valuable asset.
“Remember that you represent the company,” says sales master and coach Lori Jo Vest, co-author of Who's Your Gladys? How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan. “If a customer is unhappy, no matter what caused the problem, one of the most important aspects of your job is to do what you can to make him happy again.”
To that end, Vest recommends staying calm, not taking the anger personally, and calling on your logical mind to think things through without emotion. “Can you offer their preferred resolution, even if it’s a bit outside of the typical request? Your creative problem solving and ability to represent your employer at the highest possible levels will lead to happy customers.”
Etiquette expert Gigi Lewis of Club Etiquette suggests taking ownership of the conversation by setting and maintaining a positive and helpful tone from beginning to end. “Speak with energy, confidence, and a smile in your voice. Allow them to state their concern, and connect with them by showing a bit of empathy, but stick with their reason for calling -- don’t add more.” She also notes that not leaving someone on hold any longer than two minutes at a time can help ease tensions.
If further action needs to be taken, be sure to follow up. “An angry customer, once his problem has been resolved, can become your biggest advocate,” Vest says. She also recommends taking a moment after the dust settles to think about how this situation may be prevented in the future. “Document the complaint and figure out what can be done to change procedures or policies so that others won’t experience the same problem.”