Trin! Trin! The phone rings and John, a customer service representative employed by a reputed company, hurries to pick up the call. Before he could even utter a word, the customer at the other end of the phone starts yelling, “I’ve had enough of you. I want my issue to be resolved immediately.” And he demands to speak to a superior. Upon hearing this, a visibly stunned John tries to calm the air by using standard rebuttal techniques, but none comes to his rescue. In fact, these rebuttals only manage to add more fuel to the fire and complicate the situation. But weren’t these standard rebuttals supposed to help John deal with the customer? Where did he go wrong?
The thing that John missed was that every customer is different and he just can’t follow a standard template to appease each and every customer. With this is mind we have put together a list of five most difficult types call center customers and ways to handle them-
Types of Callers in Call Center
Handling difficult customers in the call center can be a bit tricky. With this is mind we have put together a list of five most difficult types call center customers and ways to handle them-
The Chatty Cathy
Catty Cathy is the kind of customer, who is more than happy to eat into your time and drive you off track. If you let them roll, they can easily stitch a series of irrelevant stories and before you know it you’ll find yourself chatting about a holiday in Hawaii, instead of the technical assistance that you are supposed to provide.
Generally, these types of call center customers are friendly, but they can keep you engaged on the phone line for quite a long time if not managed carefully.
Hence beware of this kind of customer!
How do you deal with them:
Be focused and do everything in your prowess to make sure that the conversation is on track? Also be wary of the kind of questions that you are asking and try to close every avenue for potential new conversation. And whenever the conversation goes off track, try to immediately bring the focus back on the issue at hand by offering short, yet polite answers.
To minimize their response, you can also ask them closed questions.
If the customer talks over you, don’t give them minimal encouragers like ‘Okay, I see’, ‘Uh-huh’, etc. which we are socially conditioned to do. The customer will probably notice this and ask you if you are still there or listening to them. You can then acknowledge what they said and lead the conversation. The whole idea here is to disrupt the customer’s flow by doing something unexpected and taking control. But you need to be careful and make sure that you are doing this politely.
Sometimes, these customers won’t stop talking because they feel that the agent isn’t listening to them. If that’s the case, you can actively listen to them and acknowledge them whenever they express something. But in the end, you will have to take control of where the call leads.
So, the best way in which call center service providers can handle calls from customers who can’t stop chatting are:
- Listen actively
- Acknowledge what they said
- Break social conditioning sometimes
The Angry Al
Angry Al is the kind of customer who calls you after he has reached the end of his rope. To be more elaborate, this kind of customer would have tried everything in their power to fix the issue at hand, but would have failed miserably. These customers may have been let down due to a process failure on the part of your organization and will let all their frustrations out on you, unfortunately. Hence by the time they reach you, they will be snappy, frustrated or, worse, actually yelling.
How do you deal with them:
Kill the anger of this kind of customer through sympathy. Be a friend, step into the customer’s shoes to get a genuine sense of how they are feeling and finally tender an honest apology.
Your first step should be to listen to them carefully and acknowledge their pain points. It is also essential that you thank them for bringing this to your notice.
Offer them a sincere apology and tell them what you will be doing to help them to fix the problem. Once you are done, check with them to see if they are having any more problems with the proposed solution or are happy with it. At times, it is alright to offer some form of compensation in the form of a discount or a coupon if you have the power to do so. But be careful with the compensation. You might get calls from other people who will expect a similar compensation for an issue resulting in a loophole in the system.
Finally, note that if you resolve customer complaints well, your customers will be more likely to do business again and may also spread a good word about your outsourcing call center services and how you handle customer issues.
Also make sure that you don’t further complicate the situation by bouncing them from one desk to another or by putting them on long holds. Make sure that you work as quickly and diligently as possible, and resolve the issue within the shortest possible time.
So, the key to deal with angry customers are
- Listen carefully to their issues
- Acknowledge and offer a sincere apology
- Propose a solution and follow up to see if they are happy with it
The Negative Nancy
This kind of customer can be a hard nut to crack. The reason for this is that they are neither aggressive nor overly expressive about their disappointment, like say an Angry Al or a Catty Cathy. Instead, much like a disappointed parent, they drop passive remarks about your product or service and it can be very hard to decide whether or not to act upon their concerns.
Customers like this will always have some negative perspective on your product or service. For many agents, they can be the hardest ones to deal with because you can’t appease them with a mere apology or a simple solution. But if you wish to be among the best call center companies that are out there, you need to empower your agents to deal with customers of varying tempers.
How do you deal with them:
You need to remain positive and deal with Negative Nancys with a great level of tact. Keep a smile on your face and never let them get you down. Do everything within your prowess to resolve their issue within the shortest possible time and show them that they have invested their faith in the right company.
If you see that the customer has gone too far and is threatening you, document the conversation and report it to your supervisor. However, if they are just being unpleasant, you must try to make them feel heard. You can ask them questions about what went wrong, if they had a chat before with some other agent regarding the issue, which part of the product or service specifically upset them, etc.
Also try to win them over by asking them to provide feedback regarding the pitfalls in your operations.
To do this, you can invite them to fill out a survey that could be used to improve your business processes. Almost all the top call center companies follow this strategy to make their customers feel that their opinions are valued.
Moreover, always thank your customers for their efforts that are helping your organization improve.
This way they will feel more valued, which can go a long way in helping you dispel the negativity about your brand in the heart of this kind of customer.
The Confused Cody
The Confused Cody accounts for more than half of the calls that you’ll receive at a call center. This kind of customer isn’t necessarily angry nor are they talking your ear off. They are just in a state of confusion about general stuff such as how to use a product, complete a purchase and so on.They may also be confused with one of your processes or can’t make up their mind about which particular product to go for. Sometimes, they would have no clue about what they want, which is why helping them can be a difficult and frustrating process.
How do you deal with them:
In almost all of the cases where you have to deal with confused customers, being completely honest helps. However, honest opinions alone won’t help you to resolve their issues in a satisfactory manner. Back your opinions with credible data or proof. State examples, where other customers have found a product or service helpful.
Be patient and listen to their queries carefully. Once you understand their issue, put them on hold for a brief period and consult your manual. If you still can’t figure out an answer, consult a peer or a senior employee and resolve the issue.
The Threatening Theo
Threatening Theo is the frustrated type who is all set to explode by the time he arrives at the other end of your phone. Many times this kind of customer can be scarier than Angry Al and they might even threaten to leave your company for another one and pass some scary remarks.
Whatever you do, there will always be a small percentage of call center customers who will try to coerce you to give them what they want, and this is a sad reality. There can be several reasons for this. The customer may be frustrated, or perhaps, they are not a nice person and enjoy threatening people.
How do you deal with them:
Keep your cool and try to calm the situation by showing some sympathy, just like you do in the case of Angry Al. Remember to smile, be a friend and remain as understanding as you possibly can. If possible offer compensation and try to resolve the issue within the shortest possible time.
If you ever have to face a threatening customer, the above strategies will help you respond to them. Besides, you can also try to ignore it and shift your entire focus on identifying and resolving their issue. Depending on how severe the threat is, you can choose to end the conversation if your company policy allows it and report them.
Finding A Successful Solution: The Expertcallers’ Way to Handle Customer Demands
Be it conducting customer surveys or handling their complaints and queries, you need specialist skills for a quick and successful resolution. These skills can be a lifesaver when encountering the diverse types of customers in a call center, especially the difficult ones. Hence, it is essential for all your staff to undergo the right training and guidance so that they are well-equipped to handle everything that comes their way.
This is easier said than done. It can be extremely tough to practically implement regular staff training when you have a lot of different types of callers in the call center to attend to on a daily basis. And if you have a small business with limited resources and low turnover, where a small error could easily escalate into a bigger problem, it’s even tougher to prepare your staff to offer the best solutions to your customers.
Difficult customers can be really frustrating and damage the enthusiasm and morale of the working environment, but they are a regular part of the customer service role. If you are wondering about how to deal with angry customers in a call center, here are some tips on how ExpertCallers does it and how you can do it too.
Step 1 – Avoid holding positions in an argument and focus instead on your goals and interests
While trying to find the right solution to a query or demand, both the customer and the agent can get stuck in a position and fight hard for it. A different approach to handle the issue would be to focus on interests rather than positions. So, whenever you are entering into a conversation with an angry customer, you need to set your emotions aside and think carefully about what can be done now. It is essential to resist any temptations to win the argument and concentrate on adopting a goal or interest-based approach for handling the difficult customers in a call center and resolve their demands.
Step 2 – Pay attention to the customer’s interests rather than the position they are holding
Once you have set a clear picture of your interests and goals, try to understand what the interests and needs of your customers are. It’s better to identify them early on in the call before they start to vent out on you. To understand their intentions better, you can intelligently frame probing questions to find out what their actual pain point is.
You need to be careful about maintaining an empathetic tone while you are asking questions to them and pay attention to their response.
Focus less on the position they are holding and pay more attention to their interests. This will help you ignore their attempts to bait you into the argument and sincerely solve their issues.
Step 3 – Tap into your creative side to find a way to meet everyone’s needs and interests
By now, you would probably have a clear idea of the customer’s needs and interests. Moving further, you have to think decisively and creatively to come up with a strategy where you can protect their interests. Finding a solution like this can be quite difficult, especially in a call center. The following questions might be of help:
- What strategy have other advisors followed to resolve similar situations?
- What can we learn from our competitors who have dealt with situations like this?
- Can we take the help of someone from a different department for a fresh perspective on resolving the issues at hand?
- Can the management offer a better solution on how to handle angry customers in a call center?
In a nutshell, here are few quick tips on how to handle difficult customers in call centers –
- Listen to your customers carefully
- Use phrases like ‘I’m so sorry that you feel this way’, ‘ What I’ll do right now is…’, ‘As a solution..’ etc. And mean it when you say them.
- Know when and how to apologize.
Once your angry customer lets off all the steam, try to probe him and gather as much information about the prevalent issue as possible. Next, analyze all the information and try to land upon a solution that satisfies all the concerned parties or else chances are that you wind up back at square one.
However, keep in mind that you are running a business and do not overcompensate the customer. Make sure that you arrive at a fair and justifiable solution that can be agreed upon by both parties.
Yes, the aforementioned customer types may be difficult to handle over the phone, but that doesn’t mean that you throw in the towel and give in to their unreasonable demands. Stick to the tips and take control of the situation. Just remember: it doesn’t get easier, you just have to get better.