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What Should I Do To Diffuse An Angry Customer Over The Phone?


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It’s just an average day at work when all of a sudden, you hear the sound of a ringing phone. When you pick up the phone to answer, you are greeted with an angry customer who is screaming at you. During these types of situations, what are you supposed to do? Regardless of what industry you’re in, it is inevitable that we come across angry customers. While it is easier to interact and diffuse angry customers in person, the COVID-19 pandemic has definitely made significant changes to how we interact with our customers, creating a sudden shift to our interactions through the phone.

In order to become a successful business, employees must be able to provide good customer service. Although it is more difficult to provide good customer service to an angry customer, it is important to maintain the quality of service you provide in order to stand out against other competitors. However, we know how difficult it can be to diffuse an angry customer, especially over the phone since you are not able to take advantage and read their body language. In this article, we will be discussing step-by-step guidelines on how to diffuse an angry customer over the phone while ensuring that they leave happy and satisfied.

Listen To The Customer And Acknowledge Their Frustration

When a customer is angry and calls in to complain about a service that they are not happy with or a technician that they believe did not deliver promising results, you may be inclined to be defensive and immediately correct them. Unfortunately, this can cause the customer to become more frustrated as they may see this as a sign that you are not acknowledging their frustrations.

According to surveys, customers are more likely to cool down and increase retention when you listen to them. Try to remember the last time you were angry and had to get it off your chest. When the person you are talking to interrupts you, wouldn’t you be more upset? When you provide the customer the opportunity to vent, it also allows them to cool down while also giving you the opportunity to understand the situation as a whole.

In addition to listening to the customer, make sure to acknowledge their frustrations. When they are calling to complain about a service technician that did not deliver promising results, reassure them that you would have reacted the same way if you were in their place. When they feel acknowledged and heard, they will be more inclined to calm down.

Be Genuine When You Apologize

Have you ever gotten into a fight with a family member, friend, or significant other and received an apology that was not genuine? When this happens, don’t you usually feel angrier and more frustrated? When a customer is angry, it is imperative that you be genuine when you apologize. As we can sense when our loved ones are faking their apology, customers can sense this as well, which can quickly escalate the situation and make them angrier.

Instead, an “I’m terribly sorry about…” will show them that you have some empathy and humility. However, do not apologize for the sake of it. Oftentimes, simply saying “I apologize

for your inconvenience” can sound robotic and lack empathy. When you apologize with authenticity, this is also a good reflection to your business as customers often associate their bad experiences with the entire company. When they don’t receive good service, they will most likely end business with you and leave a bad review which can lead to losing potential customers as well.

Think Of A Solution

When a customer is angry, it is usually because something did not go as planned. After listening to their concerns and after you apologize, make sure to ask if there is anything that you can do, and think of a solution on how you can make their situation better. For example, if a customer is angry because their technician did not perform a proper job installing their air conditioning system, offer solutions such as:

● A Refund Or Voucher – if your business allows it, a refund or voucher can be a sign of good faith and show that you appreciate their business.

● A Complimentary Service – in the event that a refund or voucher is not doable, a complimentary service will do just the trick and show how sorry you are. In addition, this will be a good way to correct the mistakes that were made initially.

● Inform Them That You Will Be Speaking With The Technician – while informing the customer that you will be speaking with the technician is not considered a direct solution, it will show your commitment that it will not happen again.

Thank Them For Their Time

While interacting with an angry customer is not necessarily something that you would like to thank for, thanking the customer for their time and input is a great way to show your appreciation and diffuse their anger. In addition, their complaint could be valuable information that can lead to the growth and improvement of your business.

When customers complain about a service or a technician that did not deliver promising results, this can help you take notes on what parts of your business needs improvement. Their input can help you pinpoint specific technicians that may need more training whether it is customer service skills or HVAC training. If the customer is complaining about a service that did not reflect the price that they paid for, their feedback can give you an idea if your services cost too much and allow you to compare between other businesses within the area.

Whatever it may be, an angry customer can always be a good thing as it can lead to feedback and an opportunity to improve.

Always Follow Up

Lastly, always follow up after a customer calls to complain. When we follow up with customers, they tend to feel more valued and heard. When making the follow up call, make sure to call within a few days, but never more than a week.

In addition, taking notes during or after your conversation can also make it easier for you when making the follow up call. By having notes, you can remember what the conversation and the problem was about. In the event that the customer did not pick up their phone the first time, make sure to leave a voicemail and call a second time to show your dedication. In order to become a successful business, making strong connections and leaving a good impression is an important aspect when it comes to interacting with customers.

Thanks to technology, we are now able to interact with our customers even if they are hundreds of miles away. While this makes it easier for customers to express their anger towards you, it is important that you and your employees know how to interact and diffuse an angry customer. When conducted successfully, these tips can lead to long-lasting relationships that can leave you and your business with loyal customers and upward growth.

Wingel Caburian

Posted In: Customer Service, Management, Sales & Marketing

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