Angry Phone Call

How to De-escalate an Upset Caller

Inevitably, every business will receive a phone call from an upset customer. These calls can be difficult to handle because callers can be rude, difficult, or have unreasonable demands. However, there are a few customer service techniques that employees can use in order to successfully de-escalate a call. In this article, we discuss the right ways to handle calls from upset customers.

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What are the Costs of an Angry Caller?

In 2018, Forbes reported that poor customer service cost businesses up to $75 billion a year. Why is this the case? The answer is more straightforward than you might realize: customers want to connect with a business that demonstrates a sincere desire to help. If a customer does not feel this connection, they are significantly more likely to switch to a new business. Thus, creating a positive customer service experience generates customer loyalty, meaning that the customer is far more likely to continue returning to your business because they feel confident that their concerns will be heard, and their needs will be met.

How do you De-Escalate a Call Correctly?

It’s important to remember that every call is different, and you may have to employ different customer service techniques when de-escalating a call. However, the number one rule to go by when trying to de-escalate a call is to avoid mirroring the caller. This means that you avoid raising your voice, you don’t match his or her tone, and you maintain a calm and polite demeanor throughout the call. Allow a caller to vent and convey that you are listening by asking relevant questions.

The other important thing to remember when handling a call from an upset customer is that you have the ultimate goal of taking down a message so that a solution can be found. This can be a difficult task when the caller is venting, asking questions, or speaking over you. However, you will only successfully de-escalate the call if your conversation flows smoothly while you simultaneously collect the appropriate information from the caller. Therefore, the script must be worked into the call in a way that doesn’t seem awkward or disconnected. If needed, explain the reasons why you are collecting information or asking certain questions because that reassures the caller that you are taking steps to address the issue. Implementing these practices when de-escalating a call removes any doubts the caller may have had, makes them feel heard and understood, and ultimately increases the chances of them returning in the future.

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What Agent Responses or Actions are Unsuccessful at de-escalating Upset Callers?

Anserve Quality Assurance Coordinator Danielle Prtune recommends avoiding negative language. “Saying ‘no’ and ‘I can’t’ could make the caller more angry,” she advises. Also, if the agent begins to mirror the tone of an upset caller or raises his or her voice, this will be unsuccessful in de-escalating the call. When an agent matches the tone of a caller, it becomes confrontational and will only serve to make the caller more upset. Additionally, the caller will not feel as though the agent is listening to his or her concerns and that the agent has little to no interest in resolving the issue.

If an agent uses the proper customer service techniques, they are usually successful at de-escalating a call from an upset customer. However, if the customer is still upset and the agent is still unable to calm them despite using the various techniques discussed above, the best thing to do is to loop in a manager to handle the call.

What are Good Customer Service Techniques to Handle Irate Callers?

“The call can go really downhill if they’re not very sharp on their customer service skills,” says Anserve Quality Assurance Coordinator Noelia Sarmiento of call agents. The most important thing to remember when de-escalating a customer service call is to not make any false promises. Inform the customer of actions that you can do – not things that you cannot do. Additionally, make sure you listen to the caller and acknowledge their problem. Empathize with them and let them know that you understand their frustration. Finally, don’t make promises, but inform them of the steps you are taking to address their issues.

How do you Train Agents to de-escalate a Call?

“We usually coach ‘Don’t mirror the caller,’” says Sarmiento. One of the best ways to train new agents on how to de-escalate calls is to let new agents listen into recorded calls from veteran agents, and agents who are particularly good at customer service techniques. De-escalating calls is something that becomes easier with experience, so exposing new agents to experienced callers can help build a good foundation. This teaches agents how to pay attention to what the callers are saying, to sound engaging and concerned, and how to make the conversation flow naturally while also working in questions from the script that will help get the problem solved.

Anserve agents have been taking customer calls of every kind since 1969, so they know how to get callers what they need, even if they are a little stressed or angry when they call! Contact Anserve to learn how we expertly handle calls on your behalf.

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How to De-escalate a Call in a Call Center?

  • Peter: Inevitably businesses must manage demands from clients, so this is where customer service kind of becomes important, but how can this negatively impact your business?
  • Danielle: So poor customer service can be costly for business, specifically how you manage an upset caller can have an effect on your business.
  • Peter: So at Anserve, how are you trained? What are some of the ways in which you’re trained to de-escalate a call?
  • Danielle: Well we’re trained specifically not to mirror the caller…If their tone is rude, our tone is not rude. If their volume is high, our volume is low. If they’re interrupting us, we’re not interrupting them. We’re also trained to active-listen to them and understand their problems and we try to avoid saying “no” and “I can’t.”
  • Peter: What other techniques do you find helpful when trying to de-escalating upset caller?
  • Danielle: Some other techniques we use are, we make sure the caller knows that we acknowledge their problem and then we really we like to focus on what we can do to fix the problem, opposed to what we can’t do for them.
  • Peter: So all good companies have quality assurance and training departments. How do you train your employees to de-escalate upset callers?
  • Danielle: Well, here at Anserve, all of our calls are recorded. And we have luckily we have veteran agents that are.. their recordings are made available for training purposes so this allows us to play them for our new agents and that helps them learn how to de-escalate an upset caller.

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