25 Feb IRATE CALLERS: The Samurai Way
6 Ways to Handle Angry Customers on the Phone
It happens to every business. For one reason or another, a customer gets angry and calls to
complain. They are usually looking for a refund, replacement, or an apology for some issue,
whether real or imagined. These angry calls can be frustrating, time-consuming, and just plain
stressful. They can even ruin your whole day, depending on the caller. However, there are
strategies you can use to diffuse the situation and make things easier on yourself while also
satisfying the customer.
Even if you don’t think a customer’s complaint has merit, you still need to project empathy to the
caller. Even if you don’t agree with them, put yourself in their shoes and remember how you felt
when you were upset with service at some point in your life. By being empathetic, you will place
yourself on the same side as the customer, who will feel validated by you showing that you
understand their issue. You can demonstrate empathy by asking a lot of questions to get down
to the core issue, which can be hard to determine if someone is ranting and raving. This will also
keep them focused on the issue, and not on yelling and screaming. Repeating back their
answers also shows that you are listening to their problems closely and not brushing them off.
Apologizing is also an option, and many customers will respond to an apology, even if you don’t
think you or your business is at fault.
If you are dealing with someone who is upset, you can’t respond by being upset yourself. When
someone is angry, they may not be at their most rational. Any frustration or anger on your part
will only trigger more aggravation and anger on the part of the customer. They will respond,
consciously or unconsciously, to your emotions and reactions. By staying calm and relaxed, you
will help to make them feel calmer and more relaxed as well. If the caller is being abusive in
their language, or threatening, then do not be afraid to calmly ask them to call back when they
are more composed. Make it clear that that type of behavior is only hindering your efforts to
solve their issue.
Never Make Them Feel Rushed
If you pick up the phone and someone starts yelling at you, your first instinct might be to try to
get them off the phone as quickly as possible. If you are short with answers and seem impatient,
the caller will sense it and get even more upset. Speak slowly and try to understand their issue.
To reinforce that you were never trying to get them off the phone, always ask if you can help
them with anything else. There may, in fact, be something else, but in a lot of cases that will
provide them with an indication that you care about their issues and provides a good bookend
for the call.
When dealing with an irate customer, make sure to stick to talking about what you can do, as
opposed to what you can’t. Avoid saying “we can’t do that.” Instead, tell them what you can do.
Do not even preface telling them what you can do by saying what you can’t. Always stay
positive, and the customer will be more likely to feel that you are doing something for them, as
opposed to refusing to do something. If you are being calm, then you will find it much easier to
use this type of language to frame your responses because you won’t be responding
After providing a solution, make sure to follow through with it during the timeframe you offered
them. Do not say that you can ship them a new widget that will arrive in 2 days if it takes 3-5
days. You should never say what a customer wants to hear just to get them off the phone. If you
promise 2 days and it does not arrive, you will end up with another irate phone call. Make sure
to carefully and clearly explain every step you will take to provide them with their solution so that
their expectations are realistic. If there is more than one solution, then provide the choices and
allow the caller to make the decision. Having choices is also a good way to get a customer to
calm down while building trust at the same time.
Outsource Your Receptionist Services
Of course, perhaps the easiest way to deal with irate callers is by not having to deal with them
at all. A virtual receptionist service has staff with extensive training on answering calls from
upset customers. They can effectively and efficiently handle these calls and make sure that your
customers are satisfied in the end. Repeat customers and online reviews are so important to the
success of any business, and by dealing with customer issues effectively and in a positive
manner you can make sure that a bad situation ends up as positive as possible.
It may sound strange, but a customer that complains could be a great opportunity to build trust
and loyalty in that customer. Most people understand that businesses make mistakes, and often
they just want to be heard and understood. By choosing a virtual receptionist service to help
answer your calls, you can make sure that your customers always have someone to speak with
who will treat them with respect and do whatever they can to help solve their problems.