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Agents who encounter this sort of complainant should, of course, escalate the call to their nearest team leader without delay. But in the interim, it would do no harm to offer some words of empathetic reassurance…. Ah, the Abusive Customer: Paradoxical as it sounds, many agents look forward to receiving calls from this sort of customer. Though no employee should be expected to put up with personal insults, it is industry standard for agents to warn abusive customers at least three times before ending the conversation.

Still, there are a series of phrases that can help to restore calm. Of course, even more important than the language used is the ability of the agent to hold his or her cool under pressure; needless to say, there can be no excuse for insulting a customer — such an act would constitute gross misconduct, even if done in retaliation.

So, along with encouraging professional lingo, school your staff in the emotional side of dealing with abusive callers. Of course, most agents have dealt with enough Threat-Makers to know that, despite their dogged self-conviction, the vast majority of threats levied are as empty as a church on Monday morning. So, we now know what phrases to use when dealing with the different types of angry customers in the call centre.

But what specific words are central to all of these expressions? Find out below, and if you remember these words, the right statements to use should start to fall off the tip of your tongue. You can also build them into your call centre spiels. This is so the customer understands that you are a real person and are invested in them individually. The caller will feel less stranded if you take personal ownership of their problem and taking away this isolation will help to remove frustration.

This helps to confirm to the customer that what they have said was understood, whilst you have added a positive spin to the conversation. As highlighted in our article: Because they are affirmatives that take away uncertainty from a conversation, as this kind of language will remove doubt.

In many cases, an irritated person does not like to be told or it to be insinuated that they are angry, so try to remain positive. So, when the customer has come to the end of their rant, refer to what they have said as feedback and perhaps mention that you will pass it on to the managerial team.

Using this word has a similar purpose to using the progressive forms of verbs, as you are informing the customer of your immediate actions, so that they feel as though they are in the loop. It could then be useful to follow this up by informing the customer of your action plan for resolving their query and, if needs be, specify a realistic timeframe in which you will deliver a solution. To avoid telling a customer what they should or could have done, make sure you make recommendations or suggestions to offer advice, in order to avoid patronising them.

You run the risk of angering customers further if you offer them advice in a condescending tone, especially if the problem is on a computer or a technical gadget. Positive Words to Increase Customer Satisfaction for more suggestions. Here are some additional suggestions sent in by our readers. These involve suggestions of words and phrases to use, as well as other general advice to consider when dealing with an irate customer.

But what we need to concentrate on is stating that we are acknowledging that we understand the customer. Customers believe that they expect an apology. Again… very few customers in my experience call up for an apology… they call up to have the issue resolved. Apologies often result in the advisor feeling as if the customer has the upper hand.


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The customer may not be right, but the customer is always the customer. Remember the person on the end of the phone is not shouting at you. They are shouting at the business you work for. So, sit back, relax and let the customer rant and rave.

Top 10 Ways to Handle Verbally Abusive Customers

An apology given where it is not necessary is of no value to the customer and only serves to engender feelings of resentment in the agent. These agents may think: Think about it for a moment: And it displays a lack of confidence in their own opinions and feelings. Then, where an apology is given, it carries far more weight, is sincere and actually means something. Example of using PIA: I can definitely check available options for you. From personal experience, I can tell you that it never goes down well with the customer because to them you do not understand. Trying to dig yourself out of this hole is impossible.

Yes, you may have kids too, but you do not have their kids. Yes, you may own a similar product but you do not own their product. This is especially the case when working in technical support or repairs, as if you say you understand them and then try to redeem yourself by saying you have had the same problem, even the nicest customer will pick up on this and get annoyed, assuming they have bought a faulty product from a bad brand, and will start to demand replacement. Tell them that you will help them to resolve this issue. By doing this you validate their feelings without providing reason for argument.

Just ensure that you sound sincere whilst saying it, or else it may come across as patronising. Do you have any tips or phrases which could help to soothe the exasperated caller? Simply listening to some of the callers listed is a useful tactic.

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However listening alone is not enough and the agent should summarise the callers words back to them. Any words you use will be more or less effective depending on whether you use the right voice sound as you say them. The angry callers can only be one of three ego types: Directive sounds telling , Logical sounds sharing or Passionate sounds asking. Each state has two positive, neutral or negative sub sounds and the angry caller will be using the negative ones. Say it wrong and you will wind them up even more but you can say almost anything you like so long as you apply the emotional formula right.

Would you like for us to call you back when you feel a little calmer? Otherwise, this is a really sound article. A lot of interesting stuff to relay in training. Shared this with my advisors today.


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  • How to Get Your Customers Swearing by You, Not at You?
  • Loved the turn of phrase left by Ian as did the advisors when we read it together. Keep these great tips coming. Great article thanks, certainly gives a different dimension to approaching complaints.

    We train out 3 steps — Respond and listen, Show appropriate empathy and Take ownership. Liked the article, my piece of advice on this subject is not to take it personal — remember the customer is angry at the situation not you as a perso. Now what i can do for you is i can speak to a team leader to see what options we have as i have found 2 minds are better than one and i can then advise you of what you need to do.

    I want to help you in the best possible way i have felt your frustration with the situation and we need to resolve this right away. I will be back in a momement. Do you mind waiting? A customer is always a customer. You have to make them feel that you understand them no matter what it takes.

    I really appreciate the work here. This is very helpful specially when we need examples of phrases to be used in some difficult customer handling scenarios. Thanks and keep up the good work. My 2 tips are as follows: When you have a bad call and feel the customer was very difficult to deal with; put that call behind you. You cant do anything about the call once it is over. Its just like a turnover in a game of sports, it has happened and now you move on from it.

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    There hand is always out for something more. Respect, empathy, tone, enegry, needs, teamwork, identify, opimistic, negitate; spells Retention! No better customer service agent then a retention agent, you handle the call to the best you can and then pass to a different department that resolves the issues; and its usually the retention agent who do because there on at least a sup level skills on handle it better then normal, take my word for it because its the truth and the is gonna hurt when told.

    Sorry, sometimes the customer IS shouting at the poor sap who answers the phone and it is personal. There are a few manipulative clients who realize they have all the power as the customer and you, low employee answering the phone, have to take their abuse, accept and not refute their wild accusations that you are somehow to blame for the actions of your higher-ups. This special type of irate will then totally turn it around and accuse you of being the person who was shouting and being disrespectful.

    This happens to me at least a half dozen times a year. Lucky for me there are nearby witnesses to these instances as we all sit next to each other. The higher-ups are able to determine that the complaining client is not only mentally unstable but dishonest. Thanks for keeping on point and making the original article even better. In the organisation I work for, we train our staff to use Empathy I understand — Explain your reasons and Offer alternatives.

    Empathy calms the customer down and puts you in their shoes and use the emotive words they are experiencing i. And finally by offering them the alternative, they are likely to be less frustrated. No one can ever truly understand what a customer is going through unless they have been through the EXACT same thing. I am very thankful for this. I am actually having to write a presentation about this topic for my company after issues came up when i first started at the center where I work. The finest piece of advice I have heard is as follows and it applies across the board in all areas of life.

    This makes happy customers happier, angry customer calm, and ensures good relations with your co-workers and boss es. Everybody likes to FEEL important, and by making someone feel like they are a priority, you make them feel good, also, by keeping a professional tone you make them feel VIP, and often instil a type of professional demeanor in return. If you make them feel like they are VIP, they will tend toward acting the way they feel right….

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    Angry customers are a fact of life, make them feel understood, show empathy, remain calm and professional. The one thing that always calms me down when I am the angry customer is when the person keeps their composure and speaks professionally, and explains to me what steps are being taken. What really ticks me off is when I have a legit gripe, and the CSR sounds bored, annoyed, or is otherwise non responsive. I always repeat what I heard them say and tell them that I will be very happy to look into the issue for them.

    Im in customer service for 2 years and yet too. This article gave me an extra words to give more kind words. I often have to tell callers there is no one available to take their calls and I request the callers contact information. I can only answer that question one way which is no.

    If I can get that type of callers contact information they then repeat when will someone call them back. I have no way of knowing when the staff will be free to return calls.


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    We have clients that we wait on who come into the business plus the high volume of calls. Any suggestions how to answer the persistent callers questions if no one available and when will someone call me back? For Debbie the receptionist. I would suggest you speak with your employer and set a time frame to give callers for the return call. If a customer is complaining about an issue that's covered in any contract you have with them, respectfully refer the customer to the clause that supports your position.

    Then, politely explain that it was their responsibility to review the terms and conditions of your relationship before entering into any agreement. If it becomes clear that you are unable to deal with an abusive customer effectively, don't be afraid of passing the problem on to your manager or a colleague who is more experienced at negotiating with angry clients. Explain again that you are there to help, but warn them that you will terminate the call if you're on the phone or call security or the police if you're discussing the situation in person.

    Don't try to talk over or interrupt your abusive customer when they are in mid-flow. This is only likely to make the customer angrier. Let them finish what they are saying. If this involves a long, drawn-out rant, so be it. Remain silent for a few seconds after they have run out of things to say and then state your position. If the customer interrupts, tell them that you have listened carefully and would be grateful if they could extend you the same courtesy.

    If the discussion is going nowhere, state your position firmly but politely and advise your customer to make a complaint to any trade body or ombudsman who regulates your industry if she won't accept your decision. If all else fails and you're unable to get through to your abusive customer, end the discussion. If you're on the phone, explain politely that you feel you can go no further with the conversation and that you're going to hang up.

    If you're dealing with the customer face to face, ask them to leave your premises. Michael Roennevig has been a journalist since He has written on politics, the arts, travel and society for publications such as "The Big Issue" and "Which? Skip to main content.

    Does Swearing Make You Likable?

    Manner Always maintain a polite and professional manner during any exchange with a customer. Explain Ask the abusive customer to calm down in a respectful manner and explain that you're there to help. Empathize Tell your abusive customer that you can understand their frustration and that you would be upset if you were in their position -- if they have a valid complaint. Honesty Be honest about what you can do.