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7 Proven Tips to Deal With Difficult or Angry Customers

Dealing with a difficult or angry customer can be tricky, yet it is a common occurrence in the customer service industry. And because it happens so often, customer service employees and agents need to be prepared to deal with such customers. In this post, we discuss 7 proven tips to help you deal with difficult customers while doing your job effectively!

Dealing with a Difficult Customer? Try These 7 Tips

Quite often customer service teams are not trained specifically to deal with angry or difficult customers. This can lead to conflicts and the loss of a potentially valuable customer. For this reason, it is important to practice the below tips so you are better equipped to work with disgruntled clients.

1. Adopt Active and Reflective Listening

The first step to dealing with an angry customer is identifying the issue. And to do so, you need to listen carefully. Listen to your customer actively to identify what their concern is so you can find the appropriate solution. Another tactic is reflective listening where you pay attention to what the other is saying and then respond by reflecting the thoughts and feelings heard. For example:

Customer: “I’m annoyed because your service has the features we need but does not fit our budget.”
Agent: “What I understand is that your budget is limited and we are not offering you any discounts or promotions that fit your requirement.” Or, “Tell me more so that I can understand better and find the right solution for you.”

When you are practicing reflective listening, be careful not to promise a definitive solution to the problem. For issues such as pricing, you will need to check with supervisors and managers before you give the customer exactly what they need. But when interacting with the difficult customer, you must focus on listening and identifying the issue while making them feel heard.

2. Keep Calm and Focus on the Process

It is easy in a hostile situation to lose your calm (even slightly) and get nervous. However, remember that conflict and disagreement are common in business. But how you respond to conflict is essential because it determines your relationships with your employers as well as your customers.

Even in the heat of the moment, make an attempt to treat your customers with respect and consideration. Lower your voice, take deep breaths, and maintain a professional tone. Additionally, try to resolve disputes while over the phone. And ask for help, if you need it.

3. Try to Genuinely Empathize with the Customer

Besides listening to the difficult customer, try to empathize with them. Call them by their name, instead of “sir” or “ma’am.” Pull up their customer records so that you know their history with the company. Make them feel heard and valued and treat them as an individual person as opposed to just another customer. This can go a long way in calming the customer down and arriving at a solution.

Related: 23 Incredible Customer Service Tips for 2020

4. Use Support Resources

Most businesses should have some kind of knowledge base or support center that agents and employees can use when dealing with customers. If your company does not have one, it may be helpful to suggest it. This knowledgebase can help you:

  • Walk customers through common processes
  • De-escalate conflict with useful strategies
  • Set up audio/video recording
  • Get help from a fellow employee or supervisor

5. Demonstrate That You Are Taking Their Issue Seriously

Provide realistic solutions and avoid sounding monotonous. If you are repeating a script that you use with other customers without personalizing it, the customer will recognize this and become even more agitated. You need to demonstrate that you are taking their case seriously without simply saying it.

6. Don’t Take it Personally

This is hard to do when certain customers target their anger towards you instead of the issue they are facing. However, remember that this is not a personal problem. At the end of the day, the customer does not know who you are. And since you are the only way they can interact with the company, their anger is targeted towards you. Avoid taking it personally and attacking the customer back. Instead, apply the above tips to diffuse the tension.

7. Follow Up and Ask for Help, if Needed

Finally, if the problem is above your paygrade or the interaction gets too intense, then it may be prudent to ask a co-worker or manager for help. Let the angry customer know that you will contact them again with a solution or to follow up, and make sure that you do.

Related: 9 Best Customer Service Examples for 2020

Dealing with Difficult Customers Can Be Hard, But Not Impossible

Different customers will require different methods of interaction. Use your discretion but learn from mistakes. And when in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask for help from managers and bosses who may be able to offer additional options for handling tricky situations properly.

23 Incredible Customer Service Tips for 2020

Providing good customer service is key to the successful running of any business. Customers are what drives a business and therefore if you are not focusing on providing excellent service, then your company is more likely to lose valuable customers. Here are 23 incredible customer service tips that can boost your customer interactions in 2020.

23 Customer Service Tips You Must Use in 2020

The following customer service tips have been used by various businesses across the globe. While not all of them may apply to your company, it is a good idea to experiment with these tips and adapt them to fit your mission.

1. Treat Customers Well

Remember that customers are important for the proper and successful functioning of your business. And so, you want to make sure your employees and agents treat your customers like gold. When interacting with customers, employees should be empathic and take time to pay attention to the customer and their concerns. Interactions should be transparent with no hidden agendas or fine print. Offering personalized service and care can go a long way.

2. Use Positive Language and Attitude

A positive attitude and the use of reinforcing words can lead to good interactions and higher resolution rates. A dull sounding customer service rep that simply sticks to the script and fails to engage the caller or make them feel heard can lead to losing a valued customer instead of retaining them. Avoid taking things personally or arguing. Instead, remember the larger picture and the company’s goals.

3. Address Issues Immediately

Most customers are calling to resolve an issue they are dealing with and most often they want to do that urgently. Therefore, agents and employees should be equipped to address their concerns immediately. Help callers get to the right department soon, instead of being bounced around. This way, they are closer to a resolution. Additionally, provide your employees with the tools they need to quickly assist callers with the most common complaints and issues. This may require market research to understand what your product or service’s most common issue is, or the reason why customers call most often.

4. Personalize and Customize

Personal touch is the key to good customer service. When talking to customers, remember their name and their case or history with the company. Use their name throughout the conversation. Demonstrate that you are paying attention to what they are saying. When following up, ask when they are available instead of giving them a set time. And so on. It’s the little things that matter.

5. Improve First Call Resolution Rates

This goes along with addressing customer concerns immediately. First call resolution rates measure the number of calls resolved on the first call itself. A higher FCR indicates good customer service and improved customer satisfaction. Identify areas that need improvement and train your employees so they can resolve concerns quickly or, at the latest, in a follow-up email or call.

6. Consider Self-Service Options

One of the 2020 top customer service tips is providing more self-service options to customers. Customers are growing more tech-savvy and prefer if they can do things themselves rather than wait on a person to help them out. See if your business can provide such tools, either through a modern IVR system or a knowledge-base with support and troubleshooting content, etc. This way, customers can help themselves and can reach out to your business if an issue is more complicated.

7. Provide Multi-Channel Customer Support

It is no surprise: not every customer likes making phone calls. This is where multi-channel support comes in very handy. Most companies currently offer a variety of ways for prospects and clients to get in touch with them:

  • Toll free numbers: for free calling
  • Local numbers: for inexpensive calling
  • Email: with 1-2 day response times
  • SMS / instant messaging: with quick response times, preferably within the day
  • Live chat: with live agents, monitored 24/7
  • IVR within the phone system: which can provide 24/7 support and self-service options
  • Mail: for those who prefer and need it
  • In-person meetings: for local offices

8. Offer 24/7 Customer Service

If possible, try to offer 24/7 customer support that includes after-hours and weekends. You can do so by hiring off-hours or remote agents and have incoming calls forwarded to them through your IVR system.

Another indirect way to provide 24/7 service is through an informative IVR that can assist with account information, register complaints, process payments, offer troubleshooting help, etc. You can also have an online knowledge-base with “help” articles that can walk users through common issues and how to resolve them.

9. Consider Automation

Another one of the top customer service tips this year is adopting automation to provide support. An automated IVR system and chatbots are two ways you can cut down on agent workload while still assisting those in need. Automation can help with simple and common issues, provide 24/7 customer support, reduce the number of support tickets submitted, collect customer information and add it to their history, and free employees up to handle more complex issues.

These systems should, however, always have an option to connect to a live representative in case the user is unable to resolve their concern.

10. Pay Attention to Customer Satisfaction Scores

It is also important to measure and improve CSAT scores. This is because these scores directly impact your business’ customer retention rates. That is, they measure your business’ ability to maintain customer loyalty and long-term relationships with their customers. Bad interactions and experiences will deter customers away from your brand. It is, therefore, necessary to pay attention to customer satisfaction by collecting feedback and opinions. Utilize email or live chat to collect feedback about specific products, services, or interactions.

11. Focus Efforts on Marketing and Reputation Management

Use effective marketing strategies to showcase your brand’s values and mission. Demonstrate your team’s expertise, highlight important and valuable customer reviews, and so on. Marketing is a good way to maintain your business’ credibility and reputation. You can also choose to run active social media accounts where you interact with customers and interested prospects, answer their queries, run promotions, and so on. This is a good way to improve customer interaction.

12. Humanize Customer-Business Interactions

While automation can make business processes easy and efficient, you want to keep automation to a minimum and only if necessary during customer-business interactions. For example, a caller should not have to jump through various hoops to get in touch with a live representative. A struggling caller will end up being frustrated if the automated service does not help resolve their concern. And you may lose a valuable client this way.

Some issues and interactions should be conducted with a human as opposed to bots. When mapping out your IVR or chatbot application, always have an “out” available for callers who need to interact with an employee.

13. Evaluate Team Productivity and KPIs

One of the most important customer service tips is to consistently measure your team’s productivity through key performance indicators (KPIs). Some of the common customer service KPIs are:

  • Average response time
  • Average handle time
  • First call resolution rate
  • Average resolution time
  • Customer satisfaction rate (CSAT)
  • Number of calls
  • Number of interactions across different channels (chat, support tickets, emails, etc.)
  • Abandon call/chat rate
  • Net promoter score (NPS), and so on

14. Be Proactive: Reach Out to Customers Before They Have to Reach You

Depending on the service you provide, you may find it useful to be proactive in your customer interactions. Be the first one to reach out and check in with repeat customers. Is there anything else you can help with? Follow-up on recent purchases to make sure everything went well. Ask for feedback and how the service can be improved. Such interactions will show your customers that their opinions and business are valued.

15. Give Importance and Priority to Customer Complaints

Prioritize customer complaints as these are the experiences that can quickly turn bad and sour. Identify the problem and find ways to fix them quickly. If the issue seems to be a common one across a particular model, then improve it before the next batch is out. And reach out to customers who have purchased the model to inform them about the issue and its fix. Additionally, check in with customers regularly and collect feedback to learn how to make processes smoother or how to make the product better.

16. Collect Feedback Regularly

Use surveys either via email or text messages to study how customers are interacting with products and services you offer. It is important to see things from the customers’ perspectives. And feedback is the best way to do so. Whether it is about a certain product or their recent customer service call, it is important to always look for ways to make your service better.

17. Provide Your Team with the Right Tools

Provide your customer service agents and employees with the right tools to offer good and efficient service. Use CRMs to keep track of customer information, history, interactions, and more. This way, your agents are prepared to offer support that is personalized and customized instead of generic. We recommend Zoho or Salesforce, but there are plenty of great options for keeping track of your customers.

You may also consider investing in call recording software and forwarding tools. Recordings can be used to conduct performance reviews, training new employees, protecting against liabilities, reducing errors and misunderstandings, and more. Call forwarding and routing can help distribute calls evenly among employees so that no one employee is over- or under-worked.

18. Train and Re-Train Employees and Agents

Keep training new and current employees by providing refresher training, past recordings to highlight strengths and weaknesses, webinars and workshops, and more. When training employees, it is important to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding the goals of the company.

19. Invest in Customer Loyalty Programs

Customer loyalty programs will help you retain valuable customers and their business. These programs are designed to do so by providing rewards to customers who continue to bring you business. Offer deals, promotions, and special offers to members of your loyalty program to retain a steady flow of sales.

20. Follow Up When You Do Not Have the Answer

Most customer service teams are expected to have an answer ready for any query or concern brought up. However, oftentimes, you may find yourself in a situation where different troubleshooting methods or common answers do not suffice. In such cases, you may need the assistance of a supervisor or manager. Follow-up with these customers as quickly as you can with better solutions or transfer them to someone who can help. Not doing so leads to the client seeking a better service elsewhere.

21. Be Consistent Across All Communication Channels

Two of the most common customer service tips are having multi-channel communication and being consistent in all channels. Ensure that all customer service reps are aware of the goals, mission, and voice of your brand. Train them to use these different channels (email, phone, live chat, social media, etc.) with ease and keeping with the support process. This will help with consistency across different communication channels.

22. Offer Premium Support to Loyal Clientele

Just how loyalty programs can help you retain good customers, offering premium support and prioritizing loyal and valuable customers can also increase customer satisfaction and retention rates.

23. Share Customer-Focused Content

Keep your website and social media accounts up-to-date by providing relevant and informative content. This content should not only focus on your services but how customers can benefit from these services. You may include customer reviews, case studies, and testimonials to see how your product or service ranks with customers.

Give These Customer Service Tips a Try!

Happy customers will give your agents peace of mind so they can focus on what matters. While not all of these tips may apply to your type of business, try the ones that do and modify them to your needs. To learn more about telecommunication tools that can support your customer service efforts, speak with one of our experts!