Talking with the occasional frustrated caller can be intimidating, stressful, and even a bit scary. But with the right skills, a difficult call can be turned around, and improving a caller’s mood might be easier than you think.
The next time you’ve got a less-than-happy caller on the line, try these tips:
Allow some venting room. One nice thing about frustrated callers is that they’ll let you know what’s wrong. Give callers the room to explain, complain, and tell you why they’re upset. Don’t interrupt, and when it’s your turn to speak…
Acknowledge the caller’s frustration, and explain how you’ll help. A little empathy goes a long way. But don’t fake it — frustrated callers are like bloodhounds when it comes to sniffing out insincerity, and a lackluster “I understand” might make your caller even more upset. If you’re empathetic to a caller’s strife, show it! If not, thank them for their time or input, and then move on to explaining how you’ll help:
“I can certainly understand why you’re upset! I’m going to do everything I can to help get this resolved.”
“Thank you for taking the time to contact us! Our attorney is the best person to help you. Let me gather a bit of information, and I’ll put you in touch with the attorney.”
When applicable, frame your role. Here’s a tough part about frustrated callers: They’re often frustrated because they’re not able to connect with the person they’re seeking. Instead, they’re talking to you…and that can seem less than satisfying. If you’re not the expert your caller is looking for, framing your role can be a big help. Explain what you do, and assure the caller that you will do everything in your power to help. You may not be able to offer exactly what your caller wants in the moment, but your dedication to customer service will still shine through:
“I can certainly understand why you’re upset! As the receptionist, I can alert everyone on our tech support team to your issue, and ask that they return your call to set up a repair appointment as soon as possible. I’m going to do everything I can to help get this resolved!”
Showcase your listening skills. A caller’s frustration might stem from feelings of being ignored or unheard, so taking notes and listening closely are very important. Let callers know you’ve heard their concerns by paraphrasing them back:
“The order was placed on June 21, but you didn’t receive it until August, correct?”
Most importantly, keep calm and kind. This is the biggie. If you keep your cool, remain professional and friendly, and show your understanding and appreciation, you’re likely to improve even the most upset caller’s mood, even if you aren’t able to solve an issue right away.
Want proof that the kind approach really works? Look no further than the Ruby front lines! Our virtual receptionists are often complimented on their courtesy and kindness, and because we love celebrating accomplishments, we share these compliments with our team. Fresh from the from the Ruby compliment files, here are a few recent quotes from initially-frustrated callers:
“I know this is not your fault. You have been great!”
“I am not upset with you. You have been very kind! I really appreciate you listening to me so well and taking notes.”
“Even though I am frustrated, it was nice to have a lovely receptionist do what she could to help me. Not very many people do that anymore!”
These steps are simple, but following them can make a big impact on a frustrated caller, and help keep your mood bright in the face of occasional negativity to boot!
Bottom line: Do what you can and do it with a smile, and you’re sure to brighten any caller’s day.