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If you work in a customer-facing job, you’ve undoubtedly faced a situation that most service representatives dread: the irate customer. This customer seems to believe that you, personally, are out to get them with a broken or underperforming product or service and therefore takes all of their anger and frustration out on you.

While handling calls from an irate customer might feel like a highly personal attack that requires you to defend yourself or your company, properly trained customer service representatives can effectively defuse upset customers when trained to do so.

It’s Not Personal

Providing service to a customer who has become emotional is a complex issue. In order to be successful in dealing with these situations, a special kind of handling is required. One of the hardest parts about dealing with an irate customer is remembering that the customer is angry or upset about a problem – not about you personally. This necessitates the employment of a specific skill: identifying processes by which to handle emotional customers while keeping control of your own emotions.

You might be wondering what the point is in trying to respectfully handle an irate customer so that you can move forward in solving their problem. Why should you deal with that kind of poor treatment?! While you shouldn’t have to deal with any kind of abuse at work, it is still your responsibility to solve customer problems as effectively and promptly as possible. This includes problems from irate customers.

Irate Customer

According to a report from Deloitte, customers are dealing with fewer customer service problems now, but are also more likely to make a complaint when they do encounter poor service. This means that the irate customer threatening to ruin your day is also likely to talk to others about their frustrating experience – unless you resolve the issue.

What’s the Benefit of Handling an Irate Customer?

In the heat of the moment, it may seem to you like the customer would never consider doing business with your organization ever again based upon how angry they are. Keep this in mind, however – if a customer is irate, it is because they feel that your organization let them down in some way. Perhaps a product malfunctioned and interfered with a big life event. Or maybe a service that they were relying on failed to perform at a crucial time. Whatever the reason, the customer feels that your organization has failed them in some way and their anger is likely derived from this source.

The customer, then, despite being heightened and upset, is expecting you to fix their problem on behalf of your organization – or, if it can’t be fixed, the customer will be expecting some sort of compensation for their trouble. If you’re able to defuse the emotion in the situation, identify the problem and make progress towards fixing it, there is a good chance that you can retain that customer for future business. According to survey data from Salesforce Research, 78% of customers are willing to stand by an organization after a mistake if they receive excellent service. All is not lost even if you’re dealing with an irate customer.

A Four-Point Plan for Dealing with Irate Customers

When done effectively, customer service representatives can guide tense, highly emotional interactions to a mutually acceptable resolution. As much as you might be tempted to put an end to the interaction by hanging up on the irate caller, this is never acceptable. Rather than having to sit and take the poor treatment from the customer, be proactive by employing a specific set of skills designed for use in these tricky situations.

Customer Frustration

In order to effectively handle irate customers, Service Skills recommends a simple four-point plan – called the ASAP technique – that will equip customer service representatives with the skills to defuse highly emotional customer interactions and identify an acceptable resolution. In some cases, however, you, unfortunately, will not be the appropriate person to bring about a resolution. Just as you can satisfy most people most of the time, the ASAP technique will work for most situations, but not all.

For those who aren’t responsive to your attempts to defuse and correct the situation, it’s likely time to escalate that customer concern to a supervisor who may be better able to offer the customer a solution. The need for escalation should be rare, however, as the ASAP technique will equip service representatives to handle most irate customers.

To learn the four components of the ASAP technique, contact a Service Skills representative today and request a free demo of How to Handle an Irate Customer or any of the Telephone Doctor Customer Service Series.

Be sure to check out these great articles from the team at ServiceSkills:

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