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Eileen McClelland

Keep Cool and Quiet to Defuse Angry Customers

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I recently read about a technique for dealing with angry customers — over the phone.

<pAs you may know, some people talk non-stop when they are upset, angry or frustrated.

One of the best ways to get someone to stop talking (or yelling!) on the phone is to be completely silent and not to interrupt or acknowledge the barrage.

Say absolutely nothing. Not even, uh-huh. Not even a sigh.

Eventually, recognizing the silence, the customer will stop and ask, “Hello, are you there?” and then you’ll be able to practice customer-service techniques to take control of the conversation.

When you do start talking, try not to “take the bait.” Don’t respond to insults, or other angry or abusive comments. Although this technique requires some self-discipline, it’s important to rise above the fray and remain professional. Arguing with an angry person is unlikely to lead to anything positive.

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Remind yourself that the unpleasant customer shouldn’t be allowed to upset or ruin even a minute of your day. Instead, focus on showing the customer you understand he is upset, using empathy, and then try to move the conversation away from the customer’s anger and back to a resolution of the problem.

 

MORE TIPS
  • Maintain a calm tone of voice.

  • Keep your responses short, when you do begin talking.

  • Refrain from signs of impatience, like sighing.

  • If you can pull this off, you may actually get the chance to resolve this particular problem and avoid a scathing Yelp attack.

  • The source of that advice, and many more practical tips, is: “Perfect Phrases for Customer Service: Hundreds of Tools, Techniques, and Scripts for Handling Any Situation,” by Robert Bacal.

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