Not everyone has appropriate phone etiquette. If the phone is an important method for your business to communicate with customers and generate leads, you’re sure to come into contact with what we call “difficult callers.”
Difficult callers aren’t all the shouting, angry caller that comes to mind when we picture a difficult caller.
Instead, there seem to be 4 general types of difficult callers. And as you might expect, there are different methods for handling each type of caller in the most efficient way.
Don’t think an angry or demanding customer is necessarily a lost cause–stay friendly and professional on the line, and you could earn a loyal customer for life.
Whether your difficult caller is shouting, cursing, making demands, or just rambling on and on, we’ve got the prescription. Keep reading to look at the 4 types of difficult callers and find out the best way to handle each.
The 4 Types of Difficult Callers
Type I: 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 seem 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.
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 handle The Screamer
The most important thing to remember throughout an exchange with The Screamer: They’re not really upset at you. They’re upset about an experience or issue they had with your company, and it isn’t personal.
Be courteous, remember their choice to use your company over others, and remain calm as you apologize and offer an appropriate way to correct the situation.
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.
However, you should know when it’s time to transfer a caller to someone else or simply end the exchange.
- Be courteous but firm
- Remember the customer’s perspective
- Stay calm
- Sincerely apologize
- Offer solutions
Type II: The Rambler
Seemingly innocuous at first, The Rambler is a deceptively dangerous type of caller. They funnel your time (and money) away by tying up the line for longer than necessary. The Rambler can be personal–telling you about his or her life, hardships, family, and friendships. 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 usually lonely. 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 handle 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!
Type III: The Ladder
This caller wants to speak to your supervisor–and then when they aren’t able to correct the issue, wants to speak to their supervisor, and so on. They are demanding, quite possibly arrogant, and difficult to manage.
To top it off, this type of caller may get frustrated at having to explain their displeasure to every supervisor they speak to since they repeatedly demand to be transferred.
We call them The Ladder because they ‘climb the ladder’ of a company’s hierarchy, looking for someone to handle what may be an irrational request.
How to handle The Ladder
At the root of a caller’s request (or demand) to be transferred to a superior is a lack of trust in your ability to efficiently solve the issue. Perhaps they didn’t get sufficient help from a customer service representative in the past or have experienced success with using the “Demand a supervisor” strategy in customer service interactions.
The best thing you can do? Keep your caller on the line with you long enough to show them that you are capable of and invested in solving the problem they’re experiencing.
You can do that by telling them the supervisor is currently unavailable, but that you are more than happy to help them right now. Be polite. Don’t argue with the caller and reassure them that the problem will be taken care of.
- Don’t transfer the call
- Be polite
- Be agreeable
- Problem solve
Type IV: The Demander
The Demander is a lot like The Ladder, but as the name states, is more demanding. The Demander is often looking for free products, services, or additional refunds for problems they’ve experienced with your company.
They can be unreasonable with their demands, so it’s important to stick to company policy as you work to help the customer.
How to handle The Demander
If your company doesn’t offer refunds for their situation, it’s important to be firm and clear with your response.
Remind your caller of the existing company policy and apologize for the inconvenience. If the customer continues to demand a refund, you could offer some type of discount or promotion to ensure they leave satisfied, but if what they’re requesting is clearly not within the company policy, apologize for not having a solution you could agree on, advise them to check the policy ahead of time in the future, and bid them a good day.