When you are working in an industry where pleasing customers forms the foundation of your company, you need to work on your customer satisfaction and communication skills. For instance, in the call center field, you will certainly have to focus a great deal on how you deal with the customers.
How you deal with them matters more than the services you provide. You may have obtained the best call center software for small business, but all that is pretty futile if you don’t have the right tricks up your sleeve to deal with the customers.
Anyone who has worked for even a week in the field of call center or customer care would know the pain of having to face difficult callers. As it turns out, difficult callers are galore. In your career, you are going to encounter several different kinds of customers. Some might be nice and polite.
Some might be courteous. If you are really lucky, you might just find that gem of a customer who is considerate enough. But chances are a majority of your customers are going to be difficult.
And there is nothing you can even do about it. You see, your customers are calling you up with their problems. Something must have gone dreadfully wrong for them to have called you up. Naturally, they are worked up and want answers now.
Moreover, they want answers that suit their taste. They don’t care about your best call center software! They want an immediate solution and they want it yesterday!!
However, we would be lying if we told you that there is no way of dealing with difficult clients. In their case, it is more HOW you deal with them than WHAT you do to meet their needs. For instance, let’s look at a little example.
If two agents deal with the same difficult customer and provide the same solution, only one of them would be able to reach out to the customer. Now why is that? That is primarily because only one agent tackled the customer better.
In the article that follows, we tell you exactly how to deal with a difficult caller at your call center:
1. Listen to your customer. That would be our first piece of advice. Do not try to interrupt your customer. Do not argue with them. Do not try to stop their rambling. Do not try to prove that you know better. Let your customer speak as much as they want to and let them get their frustration out.
You listen to their ranting and try to note down the important details. It is very important that you get it right the first time round so that you don’t have to ask the customer to repeat.
2. Be empathetic towards your customer. Notice how we use the term empathy and not sympathy. Being sympathetic towards your customers would make them feel inferior and that is something you want to avoid at all costs. Instead, put yourself in the shoes of your customer.
Make it a point to understand what they feel. Try to feel what your customers are going through and speak to them accordingly. That will help you build a rapport with your customer.
3. Don’t raise your voice with the customer. The customer who is being difficult is likely to speak in a tone that is higher than normal. That doesn’t mean that you get to raise your tone. Lower your tone and speak in a calm voice. That can have two effects. One, it brings down the fury of the customer himself.
It calms him down and makes him see the bigger picture. And two, it prevents an ugly situation where both the customer and the agent are engaged in a battle of words.
4. Don’t think that you are speaking to just one customer. Imagine yourself in a room full of customers who are confronting you. This will change your perspective of things. You will be more cautious of what you say and most importantly, you will be cautious of how you say it.
You could be speaking about something simple like call center software – but your manner of speaking would be more sophisticated and polished and just right for difficult customers.
5. You should know when to stop as a customer care representative. Difficult customers exist for the sole purpose of making your job tougher for you and you shouldn’t let it get to you. On the other hand, you should know when to give in.
There comes a point during the interaction when there’s no point in speaking in further. At this point, the wisest thing to do would be to surrender and hand over the case to your superior.
6. Don’t get upset or angry. As a customer care agent, you are trained to handle difficult situations and customers. If you let it get to you, you’re on the losing end. Instead, it is your responsibility to ensure that the situation doesn’t go out of hand or that it doesn’t escalate.
Naturally, you as the customer care agent must keep calm and maintain composure. This will help balance the tensed situation.
7. Don’t take what the customers say personally. Remember, all that they are saying is in a fit of rage. They don’t even mean half the things they say. In a moment of anger, they could possibly be trashing your company and your customer care.
But that doesn’t mean they are attacking your personally. If you feel your rage creeping up slowly, take a deep breath and repeat the above to yourself.
8. Don’t forget, the person on the other side of the phone call is a human being too. And human beings are allowed to lose it every once in a while. The customers aren’t furious without a reason. Something must have gone wrong for them to reach this point.
As the customer care agent, it would be better if you could try and understand their situation and put yourself in their shoes.
9. If you promised your customer that you would call them back, then do so. Don’t make empty promises. Empty promises speak volumes about the kind of customer service you provide.
Use the best call center management software which allows you to call back the customer automatically. That not only makes your work easier for you but also ensures that you never miss a call.
10. Summarise at the end of the phone call. Now that you know what the customer wants from you, you must have dealt in call center software solutions. If you have indeed provided with solutions, then summarise that at the end of the call.
List the steps they have to take and all that they have to do all over again. That helps the customer understand better and would ensure that they don’t face similar troubles in the future.
11. Don’t make the customer wait any further. As soon as you know the entire story and have a more or less clear idea of what they are looking for, get to work as quickly as possible. Efficiency is the one thing customers really want from you.
Even if they are furious with you, they would calm down because you’re giving them what they want. If you know what’s to be done, then don’t wait around. Do it. Prove yourselves to the customer.
12. Once the customer is done explaining the problem, apologize to them for it. For instance, if an irritated customer comes up and tells you about the cloud call center software solutions which aren’t working properly, tell them you are sorry for the inconvenience caused.
This is the first formality that you need to get out of the way. It makes the customer feel validated and that you aren’t ignoring his problem altogether. Thus, apologise before you proceed to the solution.
13. We all know how important customer retention is and how you must cling to every last customer till the very end. Now if a customer comes to you furious and disappointed, you need to take every measure to pacify them and even please them.
One way of doing so is offering them compensation. Who doesn’t love free stuff? If you feel that you are on the verge of losing a customer, offer them free goodies. Or discounts – whatever suits you. That is sure to win the customer over again.
14. Win over the customers with kindness. When the extremely annoyed customer calls you up, you would know from their tone that they are in a fit of rage. Be extra courteous and polite to them. Try to be empathetic and kind to them.
But don’t overdo it – customers might think you are feigning it and that might further cause them to blow off the handle. Be the right amount of courteous and try to score some brownie points with them.
15. Your customers come to you with certain expectations. Make sure you exceed them and that you stay one step ahead of them. That makes the customer feel that you actually care and that you want to help them out. Show them your eagerness to help them out.
Delivering more than what you promised is a clever tactic that you must have learnt about in your training sessions. If you promise less than what you deliver, it sets the expectations low. That way, when you exceed the expectations, your customers are left amazed and blown away by services.
16. You need to reassure the caller as well. Even though you may not have exactly what they are looking for or you might not have the solution to their problem, reassure them that you are looking into it and that you will do your best to solve it.
Console them and tell them that calling you was the right thing to do. Or that you are ready to listen to anything the customer has to say. Or that you understand why or how the problem is distressing the customer.
17. Make sure you stick to the point. When it comes to difficult customers, it can be pretty easy to deviate from the issue at hand. That is mainly because they are way too emotional and want to focus more on why they are angry than the actual problem.
As a trained customer care agent, it is expected that you would be able to steer the conversation accordingly and would be able to stick to the facts. Remaining factual in these cases is imperative so that you don’t anger the customer any further.
18. Make it difficult for the customer to stay angry with you. More often than not, when the customer calls up to yell at you, they are yelling at the company in general but you become the middleman. In this case, you become the face of the company.
Add some personality. Make them realise that you have a separate identity. Make them understand that though you represent the company, you aren’t the COMPANY. That would not only calm down the customer but would also prevent them from attacking you personally.
19. Avoid saying no. The last thing an infuriated customer wants to hear is “no”. When a customer calls you up with a certain problem, they definitely do not want to hear you say no or that you don’t have the answer to their problem.
That may make matters worse actually. It might fuel their anger and they might even hang up. You definitely want to avoid such nasty situations at all costs. It could permanently hamper your relationship with your customer.
20. Basically, you need to show the customer that you genuinely care. This is equally important for all customers – but for difficult callers, you need to give them special attention. You need to make them feel wanted, cared for, understood and you need to show them that you are empathetic.
You need to give the customer what he or she wants and you need to give it to them in a manner that they want.
The case study
In the above section, we have provided you with a set of twenty points that tell you exactly how you should deal with difficult callers at your call center. But then again, as we all know, that is easier said than done. Difficult customers are galore; they are needy, attention seeking, selfish and do not care about anyone but themselves.
How do you deal with people like that? In your personal life, you could have just cut them off completely, but when you are working in customer care, that isn’t a possibility. This is part of your job description and you will have to deal with them.
However, the more you face your fears and deal with difficult customers, the more experienced you become. That makes you better prepared to deal with tough customers in the future.
That is why we have provided you with a case study as well. This case study tells you of a company which was once in a similar situation like you and also shows you how they managed to overcome all obstacles.
The company named TMP Direct had had seen a massive surge in the sales rates in the recent years. With the increase in sales, there was an increase in the number of calls received at call centers too.
Of course, with this sudden increase in the number of calls, it became impossible, to handle all the different callers who called up the call center with myriad problems. Most of these customers were unsatisfied callers calling to report their problem.
It was thus important to expand their internal operations and manpower that would allow them to handle the volume of calls. However, the infrastructure of the company and the budget issues didn’t allow them to do so. Instead, this is what they did:
• The call centers were implemented with an extensive training program. This training program was all inclusive. It dealt with call center software comparison as well as communication skills which are important while dealing with clients.
• A program manager, who was capable and experienced enough, was hired to look after the operations.
• After extensive training and preparation, the call center was declared fit enough to take up calls.
• The company also worked in close association with other companies in order to bring about certain changes in the operation. It allowed them to bring in transparency in the manner they provided customer care.
• Eventually, the company noticed a tremendous increase in the rate of customer satisfaction. At least 99 % of the customers who called up the call center with inquiries and doubts left satisfied. Now that is quite a number to match.
• Escalated calls (or calls) which require special attention were now being given the due attention necessary. Managing difficult customers had become easier than ever. The customers sure arrived angry, but left satisfied and happy.
Now that is the whole point of customer service. Of course you cannot avoid difficult callers. But if you want to work in this field, you need to come up with ways of dealing with them. The tips above are sure to come in handy the next time you encounter a customer who refuses to see sense.
Case study link: