Three Tips for Handling a Challenging Customer Call

Coffee spilled on desk and shirt
It's a Monday morning. Traffic is at a standstill on the interstate, and you just spilled burning hot coffee down your shirt. We're willing to bet that you probably aren't the only one who is having less than an ideal morning. Customers contacting your call center most likely aren't calling to thank you for your job well done. They have quotas to meet, and they're probably trying to contact you about an issue or concern. Their mornings might have been even worse than yours.

Answering these calls can seem like something straight out of a nightmare, but satisfying unhappy customers is an integral part of your job. In fact, 89 percent of customers will no longer give their business to an organization after experiencing a subpar call, making your job crucial to the success of your company.

So how are you supposed to remain positive when someone is screaming in your ear or being passive aggressive? Below are three ways to overcome a difficult customer phone call.

Keep Your Cool


Inhale and exhale. Although matching the moods of people around you is an easy thing to do, you shouldn't mirror theirs. The customer probably isn't truly mad at you, but rather frustrated with the situation. By using a calm tone of voice and choosing your words wisely, the customer will soon realize you're only there to help. By the end of the call, they might even appreciate your help and develop a more positive outlook on the company as a whole.

One way management can be proactive in this is by implementing a solution that automatically scans calls for predefined keywords. With this tool, you can easily go through flagged calls and listen to each conversation, ensuring your reps handled the situation effectively.

Lend An Ear


Think about the last time you were frustrated or upset about something. Now imagine that as you're venting, the other person (who is ultimately the reason for your anger) keeps  interrupting with lackluster apologies and trying to combat everything you say. It's only making matters worse. That's how your customers feel when you cut them off in a conversation.

Pay close attention to your customers' needs and wants, regardless of their attitude toward you, and demonstrate that you understand their concerns. While it is important to respond to customers when they're upset, you should give them a chance to state all of their concerns before putting in your two cents. Listening intently will give you an abundance of time in which you can fine-tune a solution for the problem at hand. Worst case scenario: Their problem can't be fixed. Come up with a backup plan for a situation like this or simply explain the reason to them honestly and in detail.

Switch Things Up


After maintaining your composure and empathizing with callers' needs, your heated customers should be much more levelheaded. But what happens if they aren't? If the customer continues to act upset after you've followed these steps, alert someone from your team to the problem and see if they can defuse the situation. Allowing an angry customer to speak to management or even just switching agents will usually help to solve the problem because it reiterates that the company is doing everything they can to find a solution to the customer's problem.

Getting a call from an angry or upset customer is inevitably going to happen within your company. Follow these steps to help calm an upset customer and show them you are actively working to find a solution to their problem. What tips do you have for handling a challenging call? Let us know in the comments.