Guidelines for Handling Upset Customers

Brandon Wells, Ytel |  
It's the natural ebb and flow of any business to encounter the occasional upset customer. We're all human, we have particular expectations, and when those aren't met the way we want, we react. Some customers may handle conflict professionally, while others will not. In this post, we'll be sharing the ways our team has found success in alleviating the stress of customers through calm conversation and various customer experience focused techniques.

There are endless opportunities to turn a bad situation into an good one in order to improve your customer experience for both the bad customers and the good ones. Looking at the words and phrases that can be used to help defuse a situation and hopefully spur a mutually agreeable reconciliation is a great place to start.

There are endless opportunities to turn a bad situation into a good one in order to improve your customer experience for both the not so great customers and the wonderful ones. Looking at the words and phrases that can be used to help diffuse a situation and hopefully spur a mutually agreeable reconciliation is a great place to start. Let's do this!

1. Listen

Before you do anything, let them get their grievances off their chest. It's important that you let the customer have their say, and avoid talking over them or arguing with the points they're making. As you listen, take the opportunity to build rapport with that person, and empathize with them along the way.

2. Build rapport

Acknowledge their source of frustration and show that you understand their position and the situation. Identify with a customer's issue and do your best to approach the situation with a calm demeanor. Appearing unaffected by the customer's tone or volume will reflect on them to dissipate anger.

3. Know when to give in

Don't waste an hour of your time and endless frustration on a conversation that isn't going anywhere. You will encounter times when it's better to comprise in the customer's favor, which will give you more time to nurture more productive relationships. Just keep in mind that you're dealing with the exception, not the rule. If you find it necessary, escalate the call to the nearest team leader for assistance. 

4. Be thorough 

Summarize the next steps. As the call comes to a close, set expectations for the customer and then be sure to follow through and deliver on the promises you make. Document the call to make sure that you're well prepared for the next interaction.

5. Keep your promises 

If you promise a callback -  be sure to deliver that! Even if you don't have an update, make sure to keep your date with the customer at the scheduled time. They will be reassured that you're actively trying to rectify things, and will also be confident in your communication skills and your company overall.

6. Be Calm

Emanating a calm demeanor will encourage the customer to do the same, and will hopefully help with re-directing the overall tone of the conversation. Be sure to put yourself in their shoes; how would you feel in this situation? Treat them the way you'd want to be treated if you were frustrated by a service you are paying for and experiencing issues. 

Call Suggestions

  • "I completely understand how you feel, and here's what I can do for you... "
  • "Thank you so much for your patience and understanding, ... 
  • "I'm going to do my very best to help you..."
  • "As a solution, may I suggest..."
  • "May I arrange a follow up call at a time that's convenient for you?"

Knowing the best way to handle these interactions can go a long way in improving the customer experience within your company. Listening, staying calm, keeping your promises, and building rapport are all key when you have an upset customer on the phone. Employing these techniques will not only allow you to assist customers and alleviate tough situations, but will also improve customer satisfaction, reduce agent handle times, improve brand reputation and much more. Read more on diffusing customer situations here. New Call-to-action

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About The Author

Brandon Wells, Ytel

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Brandon is a member of Ytel's Product team and is instrumental in paving the way for our current and future product offering. Brandon started as a Technical Account Manager where he worked daily with our customers, and he is able to apply that experience and knowledge when building out product roadmaps and studying market trends.

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