Handling Negative Comments and Attacks from Customers

Customer Service Training Resource
February 12, 2013 — 1,721 views  
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Occasionally, customer service representatives may have to deal with customers who make negative comments or are otherwise outright abusive. How should customer service representatives handle such customers without letting it affect their work?

An important thing to remember when handling difficult customers is keep a calm demeanor and maintain utmost professionalism. You should always tread with caution. Here are some ways to deal with such difficult situations.

Be Polite and Professional

Whenever you are interacting with angry customers, your manner should be professional and polite. If the customer swears at you or if he makes personal attacks, it can be difficult at times to bear it, but you should resist the urge to retaliate or use strong phrases. It will only make the customer angrier.

Explain that you want to help

Repeat that you are there to help the customer and you will be able to do so better if they calm down. Tell your angry customers that it will be easier for you to help them, when the discussion is civilized.

Empathize with the Customer

Tell the customer that you empathize with his situation and you might have been angry too in his position. Tell him that his complaint is valid. But note that if you feel the customer is making a spurious complaint, it is not necessary to empathize.

Be Honest

Be honest and tell the customer what can be done. If you are not sure about how you must deal with the complaint, do not bluff. The customer may get angrier, and you may also have to deal with your boss later. Explain that you are not sure of how the situation can be dealt with and that you are going to get the information from your colleagues, superiors, or someone knowledgeable.

Refer to Company Policies

If a customer is complaining about an aspect of a contract your company has with him, refer to a clause that validates your position. Proceed to politely explain to him that it was his responsibility to review the contract properly before proceeding.

Escalate the Problem

If you are not able to deal with the customer on your own, do not hesitate to involve your manager or even a colleague who has more experience negotiating such customer service issues.

Issue Warnings

If the customer has not stopped using foul language or if he is still passing negative comments, (or if he is threatening you), tell the customer that your company does not need you to speak to him if he continues like this and neither will you tolerate such speech. Tell him again that you want to help but you will not hesitate to terminate the call if it continues.

Be Silent for Some Time

Do not try to interrupt the abusive customer if he has not finished venting. You will likely make the customer angrier. Let the customer complete what he has to say. After the customer has finished speaking, be silent for a few seconds and then begin stating your position. If the customer interrupts when you talk, say that you listened to him when he was speaking and now you would appreciate it if he could extend the same courtesy.

Terminate Conversation

If you have tried everything you could and if you were still not able to get the customer to listen to you, it is best to end the discussion. Tell the customer that you will not be able to continue with the conversation, and you will now hang up.

Customer service representatives (CSR) must note that customer service is never personal. Customers do not call up a company to yell at a particular person. They call because they are mad at the company. If you are a CSR, it is essential that you keep your calm and give a patient hearing to what customers have to say.

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