Saturday, August 23, 2014

Four Techniques To Diffuse An Angry Customer


If you are involving in the customer service industry, or are in any client-facing role for that matter, chances are sooner or later you will have to deal with an irate client. I know I have dealt with my fair share in days gone by. I worked for a large derivatives broker at the height of the global financial crisis. My typical day was spent dealing with people who had lost large sums of money as a result of their trading. It was both a sad time, and a time for reflection on how I dealt with these clients on a daily basis.

As hard as it may be to fathom, I even faced multiple death-threats. Not due to any antagonizing on my behalf, but quite simply that the person on the end of the phone had lost money, and they were determined to let whoever answered the phone know about it. One of my colleagues at the time even had a Doctor of all people ring in solely to wish her cancer for Christmas. He was a charming gentleman.

Amongst the abuse I faced often, I was able to pinpoint key techniques that I will share that may assist you or your staff in handling frustrated people in your business.

1) Listen to them

I'm sure that is the last thing you wish to do when faced with someone abusing you, but listening to their outrage shows that you care enough to listen. If they sense that you are trying to offer a solution, then they may simmer down a little. Perhaps they may even realize how daft their rantings are, and take a different, more amicable approach.

2) Remain calm

If it is in your nature to argue with people, whether that is a spouse, associate, or a customer, chances are this will go against your nature. It is vitally important that you remain as calm as possible, and not emulate their volume or tone of voice. The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, it is very unprofessional to yell in a work environment. Secondly, reflecting the aggressors volume, or tone will continue to antagonise the situation. They will remain angry, and the matter could escalate. Always remain calm, and speak in a soft tone where possible.

3) Empathize with their predicament

This can be a tough one when you are trying to meet the needs of the company, and also diffuse the client. Sometimes, simply relating the key points back to them shows that at the very least you were listening to them.
 4) Offer a solution

There will of course be times when there is no solution, and you will have to deliver that news to the client. Other times, there may be a middle-ground to work towards. If there is a solution, let them know that you are working towards one with them. If you are unsure of whether something can be done or not, it is appropriate at this point to simply say; "Let me get back to you on that." Alternatively if it is phone based; "Do you mind if I put you on hold while I find out the answer to that?"

Finding an amicable outcome for both the client and the company can be a balancing act. Using these techniques will help resolve issues should they arise. On a final note, don't take it too personally.  

1 comment:

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