It’s probably safe to say that all of us, at one time or another, have made that customer service call to dispute a bill or complain about an unsatisfactory service or product.  Luckily as a customer support agent on the other end of that call there are a few things to practice when dealing with angry customers. Below is a list that will help deal with angry customers:

It’s never personal

Most of the time, customers dread contacting customer support so when it finally does happen there’s a good chance that the customer wants to get off the phone as fast as you do. Customers will usually get straight to the point, raise their voice, disregard proper etiquette when it comes to language and throw everything at you but the kitchen sink. But it’s ok. They aren’t actually mad at you. They are disappointed/mad about the service or product that your company provides.

Don’t argue back

Getting into a verbal shouting contest with an angry customer is both ineffective and inefficient – meaning that it gets you nowhere. Instead of arguing back, kill them with kindness. Sorry for being so cliché but there is a reason why we still value the life of one Mahatma Gandhi.

Patience is a virtue

When anyone dials customer support they just want to vent. The psychological aspect comes into play big time. Think of the situation from the shoes of the customer for a second. The scenarios are endless but let’s go with this example.

Jane just bought a pair of rain boots from your online store. She’s already kicking herself over the fact that she missed the final day of your online sale because she had a family emergency to tend to. Now she buys the boots full price. She doesn’t mind that much since the boots are really cute and she knows that she’ll need them since winter is coming. Although she’s never purchased from your online store before, your company website prides itself in free two-day shipping which is another incentive for her to purchase.

She decides to order the boots. Unfortunately for Jane her new boots don’t arrive in two days like the website said they would.  And what makes it even worse, a week later the local weatherman was wrong about the storm they were tracking. It arrives tomorrow morning and Jane still doesn’t have her boots.

Jane is thrilled when the boots finally do arrive. She finally wears them out but within the first two hours the rubber soles start deteriorating and she has to go back home to change boots which makes her late for a job interview that she had prepared two weeks for.

Like I said, the scenarios are endless and the story of Jane and her rain boots could had gone on forever. The bottom line is that when we interact with other people we don’t know, we have no clue to what is going on in their life. Having patience with others is probably the least we could do.

Apologize the right way

One of the most annoying things any customer service agent can do when on the phone, video call or chat session with a customer is to use a generic, insincere apology. There is definitely a right way and a wrong way to sympathize/empathize with a customer and seeming like you are just reading off a script or copy and pasting text into a chat window is the wrong way.

Here are some good ways to apologize the right way:

  1. After you apologize tell the customer that you are going to work together to solve their problem.
  2. Tell the customer that they are right. It’s a crazy concept, I know. You can do this by agreeing with them. Once the mutual understanding is there, customers become more flexible when coming to a solution.
  3. Ask the customer what they want – what will make them happy? Sometimes it’s better to hedge your bet on the lifetime value of a customer then lose a customer for life over a pair of $50 jeans.

Let the customer provide the solution

Before a customer calls support they’ve probably run the situation through their head a thousand times. They know what they want and they usually have a solution ready for action. So, as a customer service agent, use this solution to your advantage. It might actually make sense for your perspective, defuse the situation entirely and build customer loyalty all at the same time.

Relieve your stress

I worked in a call center as an inside sales representative right out of college. It’s not the same as customer support but the atmosphere and the stress levels are identical. Relieving stress after hundreds of “no” answers or after a frustrating customer support call is essential to human sanity.

Here are some things you can do to relieve stress after a tough customer support call:

  1. Get up. Go outside for a walk and take in the fresh air and scenery.
  2. Go bother that coworker that tells you stories and makes you laugh.
  3. Eat something healthy. Drew Carey and I share the same opinion that eating crappy food isn’t a reward – it’s a punishment.

Working long hours in a contact center, taking hundreds of customer service calls a week is a demanding job for anybody. But if you follow the simple steps above, your days will go by a lot faster and you might even have a better experience when dealing with angry customers. For more tips about customer service from other business experts refer to this Inc. article.

If you have any other ways you deal with angry customers please share them in the comments below.