8 Steps to Dealing with Angry Customers on the Phone
Hello inside sales reps/managers, customer care agents, today I will be sharing a more insightful topic on ways of dealing with angry customers on the phone. Have you ever experienced calling a potential client (who really wants to buy), but he just can’t seem to hear you out due to anger?
Let’s face it; it happens almost all of the time. I will be sharing personal experiences of how I converted an angry customer into a happy one.
There are several ways you might encounter angry customers on the phone, so there isn’t a one way to solve it all method. But if you follow the steps I will outline here, it would become easy for you to become a master at handling angry customers – whether on the phone or face to face.
The tricky thing about dealing with angry customers on the phone is that you can’t see yourselves. Such a situation means that emotions are only felt and perception becomes a key issue. If you don’t handle the situation very well, it might result in the objection of I am not interested.
Saying the right thing but in a cold voice might get interpreted as being uncaring or not showing empathy. So how do you then balance such a situation and an angry customer become happy?
Example of Dealing with an Angry Customer on the Phone
A few months ago I was selling tickets for one of our events in Berlin. I called up a usual prospect who always did attend our event.
While following my script and was still trying his qualify the date and time of the events, he burst up in anger and started giving out lots of complaints of how the previous event he attended was a mess.
He also did mention some grievances that truthfully speaking would get anyone pissed. He ended by saying the following words “none of you should ever call me again to attend any of your conferences again.”
That was a potential deal slipping through my fingers, and I needed that deal to hit my monthly target of 20,000 Euros. Moreover, it was almost a few days to the end of the month, so that made it worse – since no other prospect would buy within that short period of time.
Was I finally able to make this client purchase a ticket to another of our event in German Berlin? The answer is YES. Not just that he purchased, he also came with a colleague – which made it a double deal for me.
How was I able to achieve that?
Steps to Dealing with Angry Customers on the Phone without Losing Them
Nobody wants to lose a customer just because they were angry and called in just to dish out their grievances. I would recommend you read the following steps and outline it for your customer reps or salespeople to have it handy.
So what are the steps we’ve been waiting for?
Depending on your organization, the type of services you render, there is always room for repeat customers. One of the things I do as an inside sales rep is to verify the current situation with a prospect, before placing the call across.
Get all the information you need before making that call. It would help you not to get thrown off balance. I qualify all my leads with my colleagues who might have called the same company before I decide to do so.
But in the case your lead is a fresh one, you can just go ahead and make the call. Then, whatever happens, should happen – that is the mindset of a hustler.
Whether the customer called in or you tried pitching before you were cut short by several rants, there is a simple job to do, which is to LISTEN.
Interrupting an angry customer on the phone indirectly shows that you don’t give a feeling regarding their situation. Since they can’t read your facial expression that is one of the clues they would use to judge your level of empathy.
When you pay attention, you simultaneously show that you have a genuine concern. It also shows that you are considering their situation and looking out for the best possible solution for them. Never override a customer’s speech with yours – even if you have good news.
Validate their Anger
A customer is angry; make them feel their situation really calls for anger. When my customer told me they had issues with the electronics and hotel where the event was held in Berlin; despite the fact it was minor, I made him see how terrible that situation was.
Validate the problem they are facing or have, and let them know it truly calls for being upset.
“I understand Mr. Customer; if I were in your shoes, I would be angrier than you are right now”
The statement above makes them believe that they aren’t stupid for being angry. Therefore, they deserve a solution to their problem.
GO over their problems and Isolate them
When a customer is angry, they can say many things at the same time and get you confused. One secret is trying to isolate each problem from another. That way, you can get to the root of their problems. That is one way of dealing with angry customers on the phone.
“Just to confirm, you said you weren’t happy because…”
“I see that you are angry with …; that aside, is there something else that is bothering you regarding our services?”
Then you go over the problems that they have one after the other. That way, they’d believe that you are really interested in their rants.
Promise to pass it on to Management
They know you aren’t the manager. If they have the opportunity, they wouldn’t want to speak to you first. They’d prefer to speak to your management. Since you are acting on their behalf, always promise to send the feedback to a higher body.
I made my prospect believe that I would pass it on to the management and get it sorted out fast. It makes them believe that their issues would actually be sorted out ASAP.
“This is really a huge one Mr. Customer; as soon as we are done with this call, I will forward your grievance to my management and make sure they find a solution.”
No matter how angry the customer is, this would definitely give you a soft landing. Since angry customers on the phone are looking for solutions, this should be a starting point.
Treat the ones you can
One of the tricks to use when dealing with angry customers on the phone is to solve the problems you have the power to solve. When they see a fast response and action from you, they will believe that you aren’t just tricking them to believe you would help their pain points.
“Mr. Customer, I understand you aren’t happy about …, I will help sort out … while the others will be handled by my manager after I get back to him. Will this make you happy?”
The qualification process is very simple and sincere and it shows that you are all after the customer’s happiness. This is a very genuine situation how to deal with angry customers on the phone without breaking the relationship.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep
You must have heard that promise is a debt which you must pay. I always do recommend to inside sales reps not to make promises that are above their power. Nothing hurts more than when someone plays a fast one on you.
If their situation can’t be remedied, just tell them directly that it isn’t possible and give reasons. They will appreciate the fact that you informed them than lying to them about your intending help.
“To be frank with you Mr. Customer; even if I take up your situation, I don’t think much can be done because … But I will definitely try – but I am not assuring you of anything”
But that is better than being frank when dealing with a customer who is angry on the phone? It might escalate the situation, but you saved your own reputation as someone who is truthful in all situations.
Learn to say Goodbye and Hang Up
Sometimes when dealing with angry customers on the phone, anything you say will be used against you. Those types of customers can’t be helped – but will try so hard to frustrate you. When you encounter such customers on the phone, it is best to apologize and hang up on them.
“Sorry Mr. Customer, I see there is nothing I can do to help you. Thanks so much for your time… bye.”
Then you hang up!
If they call back and still sound aggressive, take note of their number and blacklist them. It might come with negative reviews, but there is nothing possible to be done at such point in time.
Before you do that, make sure you inform your manager and follow his instructions. That way, you are safe from any aftermath from the customer.
So I have shown the best ways of dealing with angry customers on the phone. Like I mentioned earlier, there is no perfect way to do it, just customize your own steps – that’s all.
You can also write out these steps so that it becomes handy – just in case you come across any angry customer on the phone.