Throughout the course of operating, your business will deal with some difficult phone calls. Some will come in the form of bad news, but the focus of this post are difficult customer service calls.
When a customer calls with a problem – whether it’s about closing an account or needing an exception to a policy rule – the resulting conversation can be very challenging for customer service staff to field.
That’s why it’s important to prepare for these imminent customer service phone calls and ensure you and your staff know how to respond to the following difficult scenarios.
Here are the 3 most difficult phone calls your business will deal with. Read on to find helpful tips for handling each of these call scenarios with ease.
The 3 Most Difficult Phone Calls Your Business Will Deal With
When the caller wants to close their account
When a caller is sure they want to close their account, the phone call concerning it has the potential to become emotional or escalate into conflict. Customer service staff should be careful to remain polite and unbiased in dealing with a customer who wants to close their account.
There are a variety of reasons a customer might make this decision, some having nothing to do with the company they’re choosing to leave. The customer will usually let you know why they’re closing the account with your company, so be ready to respond to their reason for leaving in the best manner.
Sometimes, you will be able to convince a customer to stick around by giving them some new information or a special bonus. This can turn one of the most difficult phone calls into one of the biggest wins of the day!
Customer: “I’m calling about closing my account because you’ve double-charged me three times in the last few months and I’m sick of it.”
Response: “That must’ve been frustrating for you. I hope you’ll reconsider closing your account as we’ve just switched credit card processing providers and do not expect to have issues like that again. Would you like to keep your account with us open?”
Sometimes, though, the customer will have already made up their mind. Here’s an example of a positive account closing interaction:
Customer: “I want to close my account. I found another provider and they’ve offered to pay any early termination fees I incur with you.”
Response: “Okay, I’m sorry to hear that you’re leaving us! If you’d like to close your account with us, I’ll just need your first and last name and your account number to start the process. And just for future reference, you can reopen your account with us at anytime without penalty.”
When the caller asks an impossible favor
If a caller is asking for a favor you know you can’t provide, you need to be upfront about it. Not only will this settle any confusion the caller may be feeling, it will also set the tone for the types of exceptions your company will make and how strictly you adhere to your policies.
Favors a caller might ask for include, but definitely are not limited to:
- A one-time discount
- Due date extension
- Lower monthly payments
- Disputing charges
- Promotion requests
- Substituting services or items
The best way to respond to requests for favors you can’t provide is to respond clearly and simply. Don’t make it into a speech or act like you’re disappointed to deliver the news. Simply state why you cannot fulfill the request and ask if there is anything else you can assist with.
Here’s an example.
Customer: “I’m having a really tough time right now and wondered if you could help me out by moving some things around to make my monthly payment lower. I know there has to be some charge or fee you can knock off.”
Response: “The monthly fee you’re currently paying is the price of the service plus tax. There are no additional fees or charges added to that price, so there are no charges I can waive or remove from your account at this time. Would you like to look over some of our monthly plans that offer fewer minutes at a lower price?”
When the caller is angry
Finally, there are times when you’ll pick up the phone only to be greeted by a screaming caller who is very angry. While your first response may be to drop the phone or suggest anger management, you’ll have to deal with this caller just as politely and efficiently as you do with all others.
Dealing with an angry caller is no easy feat. It’s one of the most difficult phone calls there is to deal with. Ask any receptionist or customer service professional! Insults will be hurled, ear drums will be assaulted, and career choices will be questioned.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the caller is misdirecting their anger toward you, the person answering the phone, mistakenly.
They are not really angry with you, and regardless of what personal insults they may hurl, they are not taking issue with you personally. They are dissatisfied with something related to your company, and your goal should be remaining calm and polite while you get to the heart of what’s bothering them. Only then can you figure out an acceptable solution and satisfy the caller.
Sometimes, however, the caller will not be open to figuring out solutions and will only want to be abusive toward you. In this case, you should promptly let the caller know that you can not tolerate such behavior and direct them to call back when they can handle the matter calmly.
For a great reference on dealing with angry, abusive callers that insult you and refuse to engage meaningfully, check out this blog post.
Outsource your most difficult phone calls to the professionals
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