From Annoyed to Calm.
The Art of Dealing with IRATE CALLERS
By Delia Thompson (ATCL/LTCL – Trinity College of London (Speech and Drama)

It is quite a challenge working in a call centre that receives complaints.
I marvel at these incredible staff members that manage to listen to problems and complaints all day with out losing their sense of humor.

It is difficult because you have to take responsibility for somebody else or a system’s mistake. These callers are unhappy and at times even rude.
But fear not, there is a definite psychology to dealing with irate callers.
Once we understand this we can deal with irate callers in a calm and empathetic manner, ensuring that we remain professional at all times.

The most important skill to learn is not to take it personally.
Most of the time they don’t know you as a person.
They are angry at the circumstance, the problem - NOT with you.

You have to own the problem and assure the client that you will help.
Use the word “I” often. “How can I help” and “I will make sure of that”.
This reassures the client that someone cares. That YOU care.

Here are some things that will help the situation:

• Listen carefully with empathy
• Don’t interrupt or argue with the client
• Allow them to ‘blow off’ steam
• Apologize: This is not an admission of guilt. You should be sorry that one of your clients are unhappy
• Get the necessary facts to help them
• Stay calm: Don’t allow yourself to get worked up
• Sort out the problem as quickly as possible

I also believe that we should never put the phone down on a caller. If you can’t calm them down, you are not doing your job. Remember it is not only the problem that will be remembered but also how we dealt with it. Often a complaint call can even be turned into an opportunity for the company.
So smile and help them quickly.

After a long day on the phone and many complaints later, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. It is easy to make happy people happy. The real challenge is taking an irate person from an annoyed state to a satisfied one. When we have done this we feel a tremendous feeling of achievement. The satisfaction of that is hard to beat. That feeling is what keeps us coming back to our head set for more.

Delia Thompson from The Communication Academy runs a workshop in Midrand & Cape Town entitled “Professional Voice over the phone”: where these issues and more are addressed.
Also available as an in-house. Visit our web for more info.
Or call us on (012) 345-5828. (012) 345-4866
A voice training CD is also available for purchase on our website. This is a must for second language English call centre staff. To ensure crisp, clear speech.

Author's Bio: 

Delia Thompson has an ATCL and LTCL Speech tuition,from the Trinity College of LONDON. Associated to Cambridge University.
Her experience in media includes presenting a business show for SABC. She was interviewed live on World News SABC ( a six minute interview) in 2006. She is a working voice specialist for radio and has had several educational articles she authored published in the Star Newspaper in 2006.
She has been featured in several magazines over the last 10 years.

She was trained by and conducted workshops on behalf of Speakers International A training company based in LONDON.
There clients include:
And as the Communication Academy many of the fortune 200 companies in London, have gained from her personal coaching.