8 Tips to Help You Handle an Irate Customer on the Phone

No matter what product your company sells or service your business offers, you will inevitably encounter angry customers from time to time.

While phone conversations with irate customers can be difficult, they are also great moments of opportunity. By following these 8 tips, you can turn an angry person on the other end of the phone into a customer for life:

  1. Listen to the customer – It is crucial that you take the time to listen carefully to the angry customer’s complaint. Let them finish speaking before responding. Once the customer is done, assure him or her that you understand the problem and will help them resolve the situation.
  2. Ask questions – Once the customer has told their entire story, ask any questions necessary to understand the details of the situation fully. This will help you determine the best way to troubleshoot the situation.
  3. Don’t sound “scripted” – Scripts and notes can be a helpful tool when trying to handle a difficult conversation with an angry customer, but you should never sound like you are reading talking points from a script when responding. This will only further upset the customer. Take the time to learn the talking points on these scripts before handling calls so that you can make sure your response is genuine and reflects the customer’s unique needs.
  4. Remind the customer that you are there to help – Make sure the customer understands that your goal is to resolve the problem, and that you will take any steps necessary to achieve this goal. Always maintain a sincere tone when reassuring the customer of your role in the process.
  5. Avoid saying “I don’t know” – While you may not always have the answers to address an angry customer’s needs, it is important to maintain the role of “expert.” If you do not know the answer to a customer’s question off-hand, using phrases such as “I’ll be happy to look into this” or “Thank you for your patience while I check on this” will show the customer that you are proactively looking for the answers they need.
  6. Don’t take the customer’s anger personally – While the customer’s anger may be directed towards you, his anger is actually caused by the situation. No matter how nasty a customer becomes, you must always remain friendly and professional. This will help you focus the conversation on finding solutions.
  7. Arrive at a clear resolution – Make sure the customer clearly understands what you have done to resolve the situation by the end of the call. If no solution was reached, make sure the customer is clear as to the next steps in the process. If you promise to call back with additional information, always keep your promise. Failure to do so will only make the situation worse.
  8. Document the incident – Write a detailed account of the call, including all major points discussed as well as what steps were taken to resolve the situation. This will help others who may need to follow up with the customer in the future.

By listening carefully to the customer and working to resolve the issue to the best of your ability, you can earn the customer’s trust and confidence.

Ultimately, this can extend to confidence in your company’s product or service, potentially cultivating a lifetime of loyalty if you can resolve the situation to the customer’s satisfaction.