March 27, 2023
7 Strategies to Handle Difficult Customer Service Calls with Ease
15 Minute Read
Filed under: Entrepreneurship
Handling customer service calls can be a difficult balancing act, requiring skill and tact. Difficult customer calls are especially challenging since customers may be hostile, demanding, impatient and expect immediate or unrealistic solutions. They may also be unwilling to cooperate or provide information necessary to assist them. It’s important for customer service representatives to know how to handle these situations effectively in order to resolve the issue at hand while still maintaining a positive attitude and providing excellent customer service.
There are strategies that any customer support representative can follow in order to handle such calls with ease. In this article, we’ll explore seven strategies for managing difficult customer service calls that can help you increase your confidence when speaking with an unhappy customer.
Strategy #1: Listen & Acknowledge
Listening Carefully and Demonstrating Your Understanding
A key strategy for successfully handling difficult customer service calls is to always listen and acknowledge. This means that the customer service representative should be tuning in to what the customer is saying, asking questions when necessary and actively demonstrating their understanding of the situation throughout the call. By listening carefully, representatives can identify the root cause of the issue and come up with an appropriate solution that will have a positive impact.
Establishing a Rapport Through Empathy
Another important strategy for successfully handling difficult customer service calls is to establish a rapport through empathy. It is essential that representatives stay calm and professional throughout the call and demonstrate their understanding of customer concerns in order to build trust. Representatives should also use phrases such as “I understand how you feel” and “I would feel the same way” to create an emotional connection with the customer, which can help deescalate any tense situations. In addition, using customer’s names when appropriate can help build and strengthen relationships between customers and customer service representatives.
Strategy #2: Remain Calm & Professional
Techniques to Keep Your Cool When Dealing with Stressful Customers
Remaining calm and professional is paramount when dealing with difficult customer service calls. Although it can be tempting to respond in a defensive or aggressive manner, it is important that representatives stay calm and remain assertive without crossing lines.
Some tactics to keep your cool when handling difficult customers include taking deep breaths, speaking in a slow pace, active listening and avoiding phrases such as “That’s not my job” or “There’s nothing I can do about that” which will only aggravate the customer further. Additionally, making sure the customer feels heard by repeating back their concerns and expressing gratitude for addressing the issue are great practices that demonstrate professionalism and respect.
Assertiveness Without Becoming Defensive or Aggressive
Assertiveness without becoming defensive or aggressive is an essential skill for successfully managing difficult customer service calls. In order to remain calm and professional, representatives should focus on using a positive, helpful and understanding tone during their conversations. When necessary, they should also be confident in taking control of the call without being overly pushy or hostile.
The key is to stay firm but polite when making decisions, offering solutions, or declining requests. Representatives can use phrases such as “I understand where you’re coming from, but this isn’t something we can do” and “This is our policy and it’s not something that can change” to demonstrate both empathy and assertiveness. It is also important for representatives to remain open-minded and avoid jumping to conclusions in order to maintain a respectful relationship with the customer.
Strategy #3: Ascertain the Problem & Provide Solutions
Asking Relevant Questions to Get to the Heart of the Issue Quickly
One of the most effective ways to handle difficult customer service calls is to ascertain the problem and provide solutions quickly. This can be done by asking relevant questions in a polite and non-confrontational manner. Representatives should focus on understanding the root cause of the issue and then provide assistance based on this information.
Asking questions such as “What specifically are you having trouble with?”, “Can you explain further how this happened?”, “What exactly did you do before experiencing this issue?” and “How would you like me to help?” will help representatives gain more insight into the customer’s needs and come up with suitable solutions. It is also important to keep an open mind while asking questions in order to build trust with the customer and provide them with an excellent customer service experience.
Offering Solutions After Locating the Source of the Problem
After ascertaining the source of the problem, it is essential for customer service representatives to provide solutions that are tailored to each individual customer. This can be done by using problem-solving skills and having a good understanding of the product or service being provided. Representatives must also be prepared to offer multiple solutions in order to give customers more choice and ensure they get the best outcome.
For example, if a customer has an issue with a delivery schedule, the representative can suggest alternate delivery times or faster shipping options. Additionally, representatives should also be aware of when not to provide a solution and instead refer the customer to other departments such as technical support or billing. Doing so will help streamline the process and ensure customers receive satisfactory outcomes in their interactions with your company.
Strategy #4: Ask for Understanding & Compromise
Setting Expectations and Limitations with Compassionate Communication
In difficult customer service calls, it is important to be compassionate and communicate expectations and limitations in a way that will not be confusing or off-putting to your customers. This can be done by politely informing customers of any requests you may have, such as needing more information or being unable to make certain decisions. Additionally, using terms such as “I understand” and “I apologize” can help make customers feel heard and offer reassurance that representatives are willing to make an effort to provide the best solution possible.
Representatives should also consider compromising with customers, when possible, as this can show them that the company values their time and money. For example, if a customer has already placed an order for a product but wants to change it, offering a discount on the new item could be a good way to satisfy both parties. Showing understanding and compromise helps foster trust between business and customer, leading to better long-term relationships.
Coming Together to Find a Mutual Compromise
When it comes to difficult customer service calls, finding a mutual compromise is essential for both parties. This can be done by understanding the customer’s needs and providing solutions that are tailored to their individual situation. Representatives should also be prepared to negotiate, so that both sides come away feeling satisfied with the outcome.
For example, if a customer has a specific request but it cannot be met due to certain limitations, representatives can offer alternative solutions or discounts that still meet their basic requirements. Doing so will help foster trust between business and customer by showing that the company values their time and money. Additionally, representatives should remember to stay open minded and patient when negotiating–being able to come together for a mutual solution can often lead to mutually beneficial long-term relationships.
Strategy #5: Take Ownership of Mistakes & Explain Why They Happened
Admitting When You’re Wrong and Offering Apologies as Needed
When it comes to difficult customer service calls, representatives should be prepared to take ownership of any mistakes that may have occurred and explain why they happened. This could involve admitting when a mistake was made and apologizing for the inconvenience or offering a solution to correct the issue. Doing so can also help foster trust between business and customer, as people are more likely to feel respected when their grievances are taken seriously.
Additionally, representatives should take caution in how they present information. They should communicate clearly and concisely with customers and provide them with an explanation of what went wrong in an empathetic way–this will ensure that customers understand why the mistake occurred instead of feeling like the company is trying to hide something from them. Taking ownership of mistakes and being open about why they happened can ultimately lead to better customer experiences and satisfaction in the long run.
Explaining Errors Without Making Excuses or Passing Blame
When it comes to difficult customer service calls, representatives should take caution in how they explain any errors or mistakes that have occurred. Rather than making excuses or passing blame, representatives should provide customers with a clear explanation of what went wrong in an empathetic way. This will help ensure that customers understand why the mistake occurred instead of feeling like the company is simply trying to hide something from them.
Additionally, representatives should take ownership of any mistakes and apologize for the inconvenience caused. Doing so can also help foster trust between business and customer, as people are more likely to feel respected when their grievances are taken seriously. Explaining errors without making excuses or passing blame can ultimately lead to better customer experiences and satisfaction in the long run.
Strategy #6: Show Gratitude & Appreciation for Good Interactions
Recognizing Good Behavior in Order to Encourage More Positive Interactions
When it comes to difficult customer service calls, representatives should try to show gratitude and appreciation for good customers whenever possible. This can include recognizing good behavior and thanking customers for their understanding or cooperation in a difficult situation. Doing so can help create positive relationships between business and customer, which can then lead to more positive interactions in the future.
Additionally, representatives should strive to offer solutions that work best for both parties involved. Aiming to create a win-win situation where everyone is satisfied with the outcome will ensure that customers leave the conversation feeling respected and heard.
Strategy #7: Do Not Take Bad Customer Interactions Personally
Remember that the Customer is Not Upset with You but with the Situation
It can be difficult not to take bad customer interactions personally, but representatives should strive to remember that customers are usually just upset at the situation, not necessarily them. This will help ensure that they are able to remain professional and handle the conversation in an appropriate manner.
Additionally, representatives should take a few deep breaths before responding. This will allow them to pause for a moment and assess the situation before responding in order to prevent the escalation of the problem. It’s helpful to keep in mind that mistakes happen, and you cannot please everyone all the time. Trying not to take bad customer interactions personally can ultimately lead to better customer experiences and job satisfaction.
Skills That Help Handle Difficult Calls with Ease
Difficult customer service calls can be difficult to navigate, but with the right skills and strategies, representatives can handle them with grace and professionalism. Showing gratitude and appreciation for good customers, taking a few breaths before responding, and not taking bad customer interactions personally are all key elements in being able to effectively manage difficult calls. With practice and dedication, these skills can help create positive relationships between a business and its customers and lead to better customer experiences in the long run.