Not everyone has appropriate phone etiquette. In fact, if you’re on the phones, you’re sure to come into contact with each of the 10 types of callers. They aren’t all the shouting, angry caller that comes to mind when we picture a customer service challenge.
Instead, there seem to be 10 general types of callers. And as you might expect, there are different methods for handling each type of caller in the most efficient way. Some are dangerous, some are downright rude, and some are sweet.
We put together a reference for you, so keep these types in mind as you make your way through the maze that is customer service.
1. The Flirt
Work isn’t the only place you’ll run into this type of caller, but it can be the most awkward place to have a run-in. The Flirt may or may not be interested in pursuing you romantically, but that doesn’t mean they won’t schmooze it up on the line.
While you probably won’t deal with many callers that wonder aloud what you’re wearing (thankfully), The Flirt will appear in your call queue often, showering you with compliments and repeatedly winking after cheeky statements (although you can’t see it, you just know they are).
They’re one of the most predictable types of callers, and therefore are easier to thwart in their inappropriate flirtation. Score 1 for professional behavior!
How to deal with The Flirt
As long as The Flirt doesn’t become The Stalker, they’re relatively harmless. That doesn’t make it a walk in the park to deal with their tired, flirty repertoire, but it’s undoubtedly better than the next caller on our list.
- Don’t let The Flirt run the conversation. Stay in control by leading with questions.
- Always bring the conversation back to business.
- Refrain from giggling or flirting back–stay professional but polite.
- Don’t take the flirtation personally. They don’t know you! Some use flirt behavior to develop a quick connection over the phone, possibly to get better service.
- Always end an exchange if it makes you uncomfortable, and let someone know.
2. The Screamer
This caller is seriously angry with your company and they show it by screaming at you throughout the call. It might seem like nothing will elicit a calm response from this caller, but approaching it in the right manner can have a positive effect.
The Screamer might come off cool and logical at first, and then launch into a loud tirade. They might start yelling from the moment you pick up the phone. They might include curse words and insults that you are simply not comfortable hearing. You should know when it’s time to transfer a caller to someone else or simply end the exchange.
Read our blog post 5 Steps to Follow When a Customer Insults You for more tips on handling an especially volatile customer like this.
The Screamer is a unique type of caller–they’re looking for a resolution, but may not know exactly what they want out of the exchange yet. They may be venting about their situation with your product or service, and more than likely, they’re just looking for an apology and a way to make things right.
How to deal with The Screamer
The Screamer is not really upset at you. There is no reason to let yourself respond in anger at any point during a call, even if your caller is shouting. The caller has a complaint or issue which prompted them to call customer service, and while they’re expressing it in an inappropriate way, you have an obligation to act on the customer’s behalf as a representative of your company.
- Be courteous but firm
- Remember the customer’s perspective
- Stay calm
- Sincerely apologize
- Offer solutions
However, you should know when it’s time to transfer a caller to someone else or simply end an abusive exchange.
3. The Lonely One
The Lonely One calls with a weak question (What type of account do I have again?) and wants to stay on the call as long as possible. That’s because the business of their original call isn’t really important to them–they simply wanted to hear another human being’s voice.
On the bright side, they knew that calling your company would result in them being connected to a living, breathing customer service specialist (good for your company!). On the other hand, calling your company resulted in them being connected to you–affecting your call times and the number of tickets you can close.
It may have resulted in you listening to a 30 minute story about a recently deceased family pet or grandchildren that never come visit. It may have completely broken your heart and made you consider flying across the country to visit this person.
How to deal with The Lonely One
But don’t be fooled! The Lonely One is dangerous because they tie up the line and prevent you from assisting other customers with real, business-related problems.
- You aren’t a therapist and the company line is not the place to deal with anyone’s personal issues.
- The Lonely One has a way of making you pity them and feel guilty for trying to get off the line. Don’t.
- Turn the conversation back to business with as much tact as possible when they digress.
4. The Rambler
Seemingly innocent at first, The Rambler can be a deceptively dangerous type of caller. They funnel your time (and time=money) away by tying up the line for longer than necessary. The Rambler can get personal–telling you about his or her life, hardships, family, and friendships. Or, The Rambler can be all business, asking tons of questions about your product or service, or asking the same questions over and over again.
The thing about The Rambler is, they’re a lot like The Lonely One. They want someone to talk to, and may not have anyone to talk to close by. This is what makes it especially important to establish call length boundaries when dealing with The Rambler so you don’t sacrifice your time with other customers.
How to deal with The Rambler
When you find yourself sharing the line with The Rambler, try including key phrases that signify the end of your conversation, like:
- I don’t want to take up any more of your time…
- Before I let you go, I wanted to add one more thing…
- It’s been a pleasure speaking with you!
- Is there anything else I can help with before I go?
- Excellent. I’ll confirm that and email the confirmation to you.
- I appreciate your call, did we get all your questions answered?
Even if The Rambler frustrates you, don’t just hang up or act annoyed with the caller. Get some perspective–of all the types of difficult callers to have, The Rambler is definitely the easiest to manage!
5. The Tease
They call, they act like they want your product or service, and they do a wonderful job of appearing interested. They say “Ooh” and “Aah” at the right moments and allow you to run through an entire sales pitch before they flatly or indifferently say, “Nah.”
What? But you seemed so interested in the 5 year warranty! Have you completely forgotten how you agreed that your current provider just isn’t cutting it? Why are you turning us down now?
We don’t really know what this caller is thinking. Were they interested in the beginning, and the interest waned as you gave them more information? Were they a secret spy sent from another company to harvest your pricing and customer service information? Was it something you said?
How to deal with The Tease
Much like a date that dries up and never calls again, there isn’t much you can do about The Tease once they’ve hung up and scampered back to their daily lives. All you can do is wonder what went wrong and continue providing great customer service.
- Don’t blame yourself for the hangup. This type of caller is known for it.
- Always give the information a caller asks for, even if you’re worried they might be The Tease.
Read The 10 Types of Callers and How to Effectively Handle Them: Part 2. Part 2 covers 5 more types of callers and how to handle them effectively: The Whiner, The Low Talker, The Megaphone, The Ladder, and The Nice Guy.