Those who spend an ample amount of time on the phone for their business will tell you that each call is different. While most calls are going to center around general inquiry and so forth, you are most certainly going to get your fair share of calls from irate customers over the years. Now while no one particularly enjoys dealing with these types of conversations, sooner or later we’re going to have to; that’s why it’s so important to learn how to handle it before the time comes.
As a Telephone Receptionist, it’s likely that you will serve as a customer’s first impression of the company you work for. If you don’t take the time to learn how to deal with all types of customers and situations, you run the risk of harming the reputation of the company. While we understand that it can be difficult to take abuse and not either retaliate or retreat, here are a few tips to help you stand your ground without making the situation worse:
Listen – A lot of the time, you’ll find that angry customers are just looking for someone to listen to their story. If you allow that person to get everything out right away, they’ll likely let go of a majority of their aggression and be more receptive to hearing what you have to say. Before you begin to throw in your two cents however, make absolutely certain that your caller has finished what they have to say; interrupting them while they are already upset will not help to defuse the situation.
Empathize – Regardless of whether or not your caller has a valid point to their argument, try to be empathetic to the fact that in any case, something has caused them to become displeased and emotional. Even if the reason for their poor experience is at no fault to you or even your company, it’s important to acknowledge that each customer has the right to be angry. It is simply your job to listen carefully and get to the root of what caused this strong reaction so that you can best address it.
Tone of Voice – It is a natural reaction to want to defend yourself when someone raises their voice at you. What’s important to remember in situations such as these is that the caller’s anger is not personal; as the first voice on the other end of the phone for them, you are simply an unfortunate target. As you begin to respond, remember to keep your voice soft and steady, establishing your authority in a calm and collected manner. Trying to out-shout an angry customer just derails them from your message and keeps them focused on the verbal battle that is ensuing. Creating soft-spoken conversation will force the caller to pause and speak softer as well in order to hear you.
Own the Problem – As we’ve mentioned, regardless of who is to blame, it’s imperative that you address the fact that the customer is unhappy and do what you can to rectify that. After you have heard all that the caller has to say, reiterate the main issues back to them. This will prove to them that you were in fact listening and that you plan to address each area of concern to the best of your ability. Ensure the caller that if you cannot do something personally, you will find the person who can – then be sure that you truly follow up for that customer.
It takes a certain amount of skill to be able to speak with an irate caller over the phone, managing to bring them down to a calm level. As a Telephone Receptionist however, it’s situations such as these that may help build the credibility of your company. Think about it; if you are employing receptionists who are untrained and tend to shy away from confrontation, you’ll likely be making things worse with every phone call. However, if your phone receptionist manages to bring a customer to ease and makes them feel as though they are understood and that the situation will be addressed, they will likely be the ones who will praise your company and its customer service skills to other potential clients. It’s all about getting the right people on the other end of the line.