You don’t make it far in the answering service business without learning a few tricks to handle and calm angry callers. It’s a fact of customer service – some of your customers will be unhappy with your company and some will be downright irate.
If you’ve ever answered the phone for a business before, you know that anger can be communicated on the phone in many, many forms – from extreme sarcasm and disdain to actual screaming.
Knowing the words and phrases that can help calm angry callers will save you a lot of stress and keep you in the right mindset when you’re faced with the situation. If you try to think of the best way to react and respond while the situation is happening, you may find yourself slipping up and making unprofessional responses. It’s better to learn how to respond to an angry caller before you’re faced with the situation to ensure you know the perfect, most diffusive way to respond.
You can find our tried-and-true list of words and phrases that help calm angry callers below. These phrases have helped us better serve thousands of callers and they can help you, too.
10 Words and Phrases That Help Calm Angry Callers
“I’m so sorry that you feel this way, Mr. Smith…”
Something to keep in mind when offering customer service is the practice of replacing “You” with “I” or “We.” So-called “You” statements tend to put already angry people on the defensive and further escalate the situation – not what you want to do. Sincerity and understanding go a long way in calming angry callers.
“Thank you so much for letting us know about this, Mrs. Smith.”
By taking the position that you don’t mind receiving complaints (after all, they enable you to make necessary changes and feedback is always valuable), you take away the angry caller’s power. Thank the caller for bringing a potential problem to your attention instead of arguing about whether or not the problem exists.
“As a solution, may I suggest that…”
If the anger results from a problem the caller has been unable to solve or get help with, offering solutions is an efficient calming method. Use your knowledge and expertise to figure out a solution for the caller, and if you can’t or don’t have the authority to do so, offer to take it up with your supervisor and get back to the caller as soon as possible with solutions.
“What I’ll do right now is…”
Taking quick action to relieve the problem can help calm angry callers that are frustrated with a real or perceived lack of action on your company’s part. Offering to do something about it right now – even if it’s not the be-all, end-all solution they’re looking for – can calm an angry caller and get the conversation back into friendly territory.
“We really do appreciate this feedback, Mrs. Smith!”
This is a great wrap-up statement when you haven’t been able to solve a complaint or problem for the caller. Can you imagine ending a call with, “I can’t help you, sorry, but have a nice day?” Stating that you really appreciate the feedback given reiterates that you heard and understood the caller’s complaint and may use it to improve your service or product. Sometimes, that’s the best you can do.
“May I arrange another call for updates at a time convenient for you?”
If there are any loose ends that need to be tied up, go ahead and request to schedule another call with the customer. Asking to schedule a call for updates will let them know you take their case seriously and will keep working until it’s done.
What if the caller is truly irate?
While most people are still reasonable while angry, some customer service callers come to the phone like it’s a cage match. If other callers are angry, these callers are irate.
They’re aggressive on the phone, they may use bad language and insults, and might not be open to hearing about ways to rectify the situation.
Even in this situation, you can still provide great customer service and calm angry callers who seem unreachable. Here’s how.
“I’m going to do my very best to rectify this situation.”
Help the customer see you as the hero fighting for them. Tell them you’re going to do everything in your power to ensure their issue is resolved as quickly as possible.
“You seem very upset, Mr. Smith. Would you rather if we continue this conversation through email?”
Anger is much easier to deal with when it’s text-based and not in the form of shouted curse words echoing in your ears. Ask the caller if they’d like to continue the conversation through email – they might get the hint that their behavior is inappropriate and agree to take to email.
“I understand your concern, ma’am, but we cannot tolerate this kind of language. Let’s back up. How can we make this right?”
This is when you have to put on your serious face – when a caller becomes abusively angry, shouting at you, insulting you, or repeatedly using bad language. Remain polite, but stand your ground and let them know your policy for handling bad language from callers.
“I apologize, Mrs. Smith, but if you continue to use this kind of language, I will be forced to end this call.”
As a final resort, if a caller won’t stop using bad language, shouting, or insulting you, it’s time to give them their last warning. Lead with an apology to let them know it’s part of your company policy and not a personal issue. Be clear about your intentions – ending the call, transferring to a supervisor, etc.
When the caller starts to calm down
If you’ve been able to use any of the phrases above to help calm angry callers, they may start to soften and be more willing to accept your help. If you notice that the caller is starting to calm down, make sure to act accordingly. Affirm their choice to interact calmly by letting them know you appreciate their patience, want to make sure they’re taken care of quickly, and will do all you can to help.
- “I really appreciate your patience with this! We’ll move this along as quickly as possible.”
- “I know this is an inconvenience to you, and I want you to know I will do all I can to find a solution right away.”
Whatever you do, don’t hold a grudge against the caller for their angry outburst if they begin to calm down and cooperate. It could have been a stressful day for the caller, or perhaps there are circumstances surrounding the call that you don’t know about. If the caller shows signs of being cooperative and apologetic, stay on the same page and jump back in, willing to help. If you manage to calm an angry customer and find a solution for them, you may have earned a new loyal customer!