You can learn how to deal with angry clients on the phone by developing specific skills.
To gain skills in communicating with clients over the phone, consider using Professional Telephone Skills Training Course delivered by pdtraining in Auckland and other cities in New Zealand.
One method to handle an angry client on the phone, which is taught in the course, is called the HEAT method and it works as follows:
H – Hear them out!
When you are dealing with an irate client on the telephone, at first, all they wish to do is to get their issue off their chest. So, you need to sit back and listen without any interruptions or judgements.
If you don’t listen carefully, you could potentially escalate the issue.
Once your client realises that you are listening and taking an interest, half the reason for ranting and raving is removed and the situation becomes more manageable.
The purpose of listening first is to assure the caller of your willingness to become involved and to let the caller blow off steam.
Most importantly, listen to the whole of the caller’s story. If you interrupt them you will make the situation worse. Take note of any key words and phrases used.
E – Empathise
Acknowledge your client’s feelings. A typical mistake made by many service providers faced with angry or difficult callers is to tell them that there is nothing to worry about – “It’s really not a problem” or “I know how you feel”
The result is usually that the caller has to keep being difficult until they feel someone has accepted that there really is a problem.
At this stage you need to acknowledge that the caller is upset and assure them that you are prepared to do whatever you can to help.
By showing empathy you are giving the very clear message that you are going to be part of the solution; not part of the problem.
However, showing empathy does not mean you agree with the caller when they hit out at your organisation!
Listening with empathy requires actively looking for statements that you can agree with. The objective is to be able to bring into the conversation positive “I” statements. These statements show the caller that you are willing to understand their situation.
“I appreciate you feel this way. Let’s look at how we can …”
At all times maintain your state of control. You don’t want to start mirroring your upset client as this would fuel the situation further.
A – Ask Questions
Even though the first step in the HEAT process is to listen, this may not provide a very clear understanding of the situation. This being the case, the story presented by the caller may not be the easiest to follow.
This step is therefore a very necessary one. Careful questioning helps to clarify the situation and is yet another way to reassure the caller that you are interested and concerned.
T – Take Responsibility and Thank Them
Let them know that you will take responsibility. Assure them you will take control of this situation to get it resolved. You do not want to fob them off, so someone has to deal with it.
Unhappy clients do not like to be passed around, they want to tell their story once and know that it is going to be resolved.
Always, always, always thank your client. No matter how difficult the call has been. Be thankful that your client felt it was worthwhile for them to phone up to air this issue. It’s too easy for a client to say “forget it, it’s not worth the hassle!”
We want to make it easy for our client’s to complain because this is giving us the opportunity to improve our service.
Thanking them reinforces that they did the right thing by phoning to let you know the issue.
Pdtraining delivers 1000’s of professional development courses each year in Wellington, Auckland, Napier, Christchurch, Hamilton, Dunedin and Tauranga, so you can be assured your training will be delivered by a qualified and experienced trainer.
All public Professional Telephone Skills Training courses include am/pm tea, lunch, printed courseware and a certificate of completion. Customised courses are available upon request so please contact pdtraining on 1300 121 400 to learn more.