Handling Difficult Customers : De-escalation Techniques for Call Center Agents

Rolling Plans Pvt. Ltd. Sep 6, 2023 1010 0

How can I assist you Sir/Ma’am?


The first reply of every call center associate to the phone call of its customers and potential clients. A call center is a support department that handles multiple inbound and outbound calls dedicated to sorting out the problems, and issues of the customers whether be of banking, telecommunication, insurance, and many more. Call center associates play a pivotal role in answering the possible technical or general solutions for clients who are having troubles with their systems, applications, payment methods, and many more. 


Let’s indulge in how customer call agents can handle difficult customers and the de-escalation techniques for call center agents.


Call center associates or agents must have replies to every call they receive whether it be inbound calls or outbound calls. In this customer service field, call center associates or professionals encounter curious and dissatisfied clients, and the dissatisfied solutions or replies may affect the business or brand of the concerned organization. Hence, call center associates play pivotal roles in strengthening the relationship between clients and the organization. As human beings, call center support agents may also have plenty of emotions like fear, happiness, and anger but as a mediator between the organization and clients, you must act calmly and respond to the angry or dissatisfied customers with some creative strategies or techniques that we are going to discuss here. 


Handling Difficult Customers: De-escalation Techniques for Call Center Agents


As a call center agent, he/she needs to do frequent interactions with the customers. Incessant calls are the features of a call center and the associates need to attend the calls and provide suggestions or solutions for the queries and problems of the clients. According to Niraj Kumar, Assistant Manager- Customer Care Operation of Rolling Plans Pvt. Ltd, who has more than 8 years of experience in the Customer care sector in different reputed organizations like NCELL, Nabil Bank, MetLife, Xiaomi, Shangrila Development Bank, and TDO, most customers get angry and call for two reasons: 


i) When the wrong information is conveyed to the customers by Customer Care


ii) When the customers get dissatisfied with the services provided during a Branch or Office Visit


Mr. Kumar added that sometimes these two reasons may get interrelated too. For instance, customers visit the branch or office according to information provided by Customer Care and when they ask for the service, the staff of the branch provides other information or requests them to visit another branch or office for the facility, the customers get angry and dial the number of the call center with dissatisfaction. Whenever the customers feel dissatisfied with the services facilitated by the branch or office, they express their grievances and complaints toward call center agents. 


In the case of Banks: Customers angrily call in case of ATM card issues, payment issues in mobile banking, late account opening, deduction of late payment fees, etc. 


In case of Insurance: While inquiring about the details of customers to find out the real customer, in case of Surrender Amount calculation, at the time of non-arrival of Amount at full maturity, late verification after the form submission, late fees charges, deviation of information gap between Insurance Agent and Customer Care and more, customers prefer angry calls. 


In case of Telecommunication: In case of Balance deduction, bad network connectivity in the specific area, Balance Auto debit in case of Recurring services, damaged Recharge card, SIM blocking, details verification cases, customer care associates need to encounter angry customers. 


In these concerned cases, front desk customer service and call center representatives need to stumble upon dissatisfied customers. These are the biggest challenges that come aside from the job responsibilities of the call center associates. If such challenges are tackled properly, there is a high chance of client retention. Otherwise, there will be a high number of dissatisfied customers and the company’s brand and image will be in despair. This clearly states that the significant roles of Front Desk Customer Service and Call Center are immense in the company. 


How to handle such angry customers then? 


Firstly, even if the customer raises an angry voice, you must remain calm and listen to him/her completely without interrupting his/her full complaints.


In the context of the Front desk, you need to assist the angry customer in a different room and convince him along with asking for Tea or coffee.


Apologizing to the Customer saying “We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience caused and we will do our best for the solutions.”


While talking to the customer, you should use respected words or sentences like Please, Yes, We can understand your issue, We would also have reacted if we were in your place, Anger won’t solve the problems, we will solve the issue at any cost, etc. 


Suggesting alternatives for the customers, requesting the concerned department to take immediate action for the customers’ grievances, and coordinating with the concerned department to initiate a Plan of Action for non-repetition of such issues again


Listing the dissatisfied customers and organizing campaigns time and again prioritizing them by offering discounts and subsidies leading to customer retention and a positive impact on the company in the market. 


These are some of the de-escalation techniques for call center agents to retain angry and dissatisfied customers. But one must always be prepared to handle such customers any time whether it be in calls or meeting personally. The points enumerated below will help any customer service agent or call center associate to act and respond accordingly if employed properly. 


1. Confidence is the key


When call center agents receive angry calls, they must be self-controlled. Losing confidence while speaking is not acceptable in this field. Despite any harsh conversations initiated by clients, you should stay confident and exhibit strength as a problem solver.


2. Scriptwriting can be a better option


When you script your responses, you can handle angry customers easily. You have to prepare and practice the conversations to initiate. It boosts your confidence while speaking to angry customers.


3. Active Listening


Being an active listener is very important for better communication. It helps to be attentive to the angry customers. This helps the call center agents to understand the specific needs of the concerned customers and problem-solving would be easy.


4. Being calm


Panicking is not the solution for call center associates. When you face angry customers, you need to be calm and composed. This enables the customers to cool down and feel a sense of stability and trust during the conversation.


5. Being responsible and accountable


Shifting the blame and replying as the non-accountable institution for the problem creates a negative impact on the customers. You should take the blame and accept problem-solving as your own responsibility. This assures the customers that their issues and concerns are being taken seriously. 


6. Being empathetic and understandable


Customers will retain if they feel that they are heard, and their concerns are taken in a serious manner. The call center agents must make sure that they are empathetic, listen to the customers, and express an understandable bond amongst the customers. 


7. Avoiding lengthy wait times for customers


When customers have to wait for a longer time for their issues to be heard by the right department, they may get frustrated again and feel that their concerns are not addressed properly. First, the angry customers call in the expectation of solving their problems easily but when they again have to wait for a longer time, they may get more angry again. So one needs to opt out for faster solutions. 


These are some of the few de-escalating techniques to handle difficult or angry customers. After you wrap up your conversation with such customers with patience and calmness, bid your byes with some adequate manners so that they feel their angry or frustrated voices are heard. As mentioned earlier, call center agents act as bridges between the company and clients, you must be proactive and an attentive problem solver. Best of Luck!


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