5 Tips to Keep Your Cool When Handing an Irate Customer

handling an irate customerWorking as a customer service agent can be a rewarding job.

The mere knowledge that you made a handful of customers happy for resolving their issues is enough to put a spring on your step after a hard day’s work.

Ask any customer service professional what they hate most about the job and chances are you’ll get one answer:

Handling an Irate customer.

We’ve all heard the old chestnut: “the customer is always right.” While that is not always true in a strict sense, you should always be guided by that principle when talking to irate callers.

You are, after all, a professional.

And it is in the best interests of the company, yourself, and callers that you always maintain your cool, even in circumstances when callers are making it hard for you.

Nobody said it would be easy.

That said, you can easily manage to keep your cool if you follow the tips below.

1. Apologize even if it’s not your fault

When an angry customer phones in and vents her frustration about the company’s products and services and makes it sound like it’s somehow your fault, the first thing you need to do is apologize.

“What? Me? Apologize? But it’s not my fault…” You might say.

Whether or not you, or the customer is at fault is immaterial.

As a representative of the company, it’s absolutely imperative that you say sorry — and say it like you mean it.

When hearing your apology, the customer will naturally feel that the company is making itself accountable for the perceived mistake or misunderstanding.

In most cases, apologizing won’t be enough to calm the customer down, but it sure gets the ball rolling.

2. Don’t take it personally

Irate customers call not because they have some personal vendetta against you.

They are calling because they paid for a product or service and are not happy with what they’ve received in return.

That being said, when a customer unloads her frustrations at you, always tell yourself this: it’s not you, it’s the company.

Of  course, you still have to accept the responsibility for that customer’s issues with the company.

As a customer service professional, the responsibility of offering solutions falls on you.

But it’s always easier when you remind yourself that the customer is not after your head.

3. Actively listen

Most irate callers phone customer service just as their emotions are running high. When you find yourself in this position, just imagine that you’re a sounding board for their frustrations.

So just listen patiently, acknowledge the customer’s frustrations, and eventually the customer will become calmer for it.

Once that bridge is crossed, you’ll find out soon enough that the customer will be more willing to listen to you.

4. Sympathize and empathize

In the final analysis, a customer calls in angry because he wants you to understand where he’s coming from.

When you express sympathy to a customer who feels that she has been slighted as a consumer, that customer feels validated.

When a caller feels that you understand his situation well, he will be more willing to cooperate with you by the time you offer workable solutions.

5. Offer solutions and act on them

Other than to vent, an angry customer ultimately wants you to — the customer service professional — come up with a solution to her issues and concerns with the product or service.

After acknowledging the irate caller’s predicament, it’s time for you to offer solutions.

Here’s a word of caution: only offer realistic solutions or you’ll only be setting up the customer for another bad experience.  

Just focus on the positive steps, and chances are the caller will be happier for it

Final Advice

Let’s face it. Talking to irate callers on a regular basis can sometimes take its toll.

It’s perfectly fine to feel this way. You are, after all, not a robot devoid of emotions.

Are irate customers starting to grind your gears? Take it as a reminder to do yourself a little bit of kindness. Take a walk, do some meditation, grab a cup of coffee from your favorite nearby coffee shop.

After doing so, you will most likely find yourself ready to engage with irate customers again — and with a ready smile to boot.