It’s an unwelcome fact that bad customer service happens every day. Nobody really wants to be on the receiving end of an angry caller. But if your business is telephone customer service, it’s inevitable that one day you will be.

Offering first rate customer service is key to making your business a success. Below, we will look at some of the best ways to handle an angry caller.

How Should You Approach an Angry Caller?

If somebody needs to blow off steam, let them.  

In some cases, you are not going to be able to de-escalate the call straight away, and letting a caller vent their frustration can help alleviate the situation. Let your caller explain why they are angry and let them get their frustrations off their chest.

After this, they are more likely to calm down and you can address the issue and seek to resolve it. Remember: the caller is angry with the situation, not you personally.

Be as empathetic as you possibly can.

Take a second to think about how you would feel in their position.

Be empathetic to your caller’s situation and let them know that you understand their frustrations. Your role is to help resolve the situation, so it’s essential that the caller understands you’re listening and you care.

But understand that showing empathy isn’t always easy.

It can be difficult putting yourself in someone else’s shoes because everybody is different and we all react differently to situations. What’s more, a call could consist of personalities and situations you may never have encountered in your life.

To get around this, think of a time when you’ve been annoyed about something – being on hold for 30 minutes, or your car breaking down – and remember how frustrated you were.

Think of the bigger picture.

It might appear an irate caller is complaining over a small and trivial issue, but you don’t know what’s happened in their day to add to them being upset. There can be any number of issues going on in your caller’s personal life that they haven’t disclosed, so you must try to avoid being overly judgmental.

What if you can’t give them what they want?

You should always acknowledge the situation and seek to provide a resolution.

That said, the instant solution the caller wants may not be available. Acknowledging a problem is the first step in dealing with it. Make sure the caller knows you’re listening intently and doing your best to arrange the assistance they need.

Woman on a mobile phone dealing with an angry caller, takes notes on a notepad in front on a laptop.

What Soft Skills Should You Use When Handling an Angry Caller?

Always use positive language with an angry caller.

Always remain positive, keep your cool and be professional. Never blame someone else or pass the buck. Most callers won’t care who or what is internally responsible because, to them, you represent the business.

It’s crucial that you sound confident, as this will assure the caller that you know what you are talking about. This will come across in your manner, tone, knowledge of your product and ability to stay cool when challenged with a complaint. Any evidence of uncertainty on your part could escalate the situation and make things worse.

Always try to control the pace of the call in a calm manner. Don’t be afraid to slow things down if the conversation is happening too fast, and be confident enough to track back if information is missing or incomplete.

Avoid negative language, attitude and phrases.

The wrong choice of words will only inflame an angry caller so you should avoid patronising phrases, such as telling the caller to calm down.

The last thing your caller wants to hear is negative language that creates barriers between you and them. Some customer service phrases to avoid are: “That’s not something I can do” and “I can’t help with that.”

Prevent long gaps of silence as it gives the impression that nothing is happening, leading to a far more angry caller. If you need to process some data or investigate something further, try to fill the gaps with brief explanations about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

Whilst this may sound contradictory, you should aim to avoid over-apologising. If ‘sorry’ is said too much, it devalues the power of the word and can reduce it to a throwaway phrase.

Keep calm when someone is rude or gets personal.

If an angry caller gets personal, the best response is to not rise to them. Remain rational, try to move on, and deal with the call as professionally as possible.  

Everybody is capable of losing their temper, but that’s not a free pass to be abusive. If this happens, advise the caller you are here to help them and if they continue to be abusive then the call will be terminated.

Inappropriate comments and threats of violence must always be taken seriously. Verbal abuse is never acceptable from anyone.

Smiling woman on the telephone, dealing with an angry caller.

How Can You Manage An Angry Callers Expectations?

If possible, take ownership.

Ownership of an issue must always be taken at the first point of contact. Although, resolving an issue depends on the situation and the tools and resources available to you.

If the call needs to be handed off to another person to follow up, then fully explain to the caller why this is happening and manage their expectations.

Use the tools available to resolve the issue.

Checking a caller’s contact history is an essential tool in getting up to speed quickly with a situation and understanding what has led to the problem.

Reading contact history can avoid antagonising an angry caller by asking them to repeat information that they have previously supplied.

If you can’t resolve the issue, manage expectations.

It’s essential your customer’s expectations are managed fairly and responsibly at all times.

You must be completely honest with the caller, aim to anticipate their needs in advance, and avoid unrealistic timescales or promises you can’t guarantee. Stay in regular contact with the caller, where appropriate, until the matter is resolved.

Delivery of unwelcome news or further delays can be difficult, but properly managing expectations will reduce the amount of irate callers.

Remember your escalation routes.

There should always be an escalation route for callers. Some angry callers will insist on speaking to a supervisor, regardless of how well an issue is being handled. In many cases, the supervisor will be unable to do anything different, but angry callers tend to feel more reassured by speaking to a person in a position of seniority.

If the caller wants to escalate the call, offer to deal with the situation, but, if they still want a supervisor, don’t refuse them.

What Should You Do After Speaking to an Angry Caller?

Don’t take things personally.

Remember, the caller was angry at the situation, not the person answering the phone. You need to detach your personal feelings from certain situations as they are simply unavoidable and out of your control.

Make sure you go back to work a clear head.

An unpleasant call can have a detrimental effect on your day, so you must prevent a negative experience influencing the next call. Speak to a supervisor, clear your head, and take a moment to compose yourself.

Always ensure you’re ready to fully focus on delivering great customer service before moving on to your next caller.

Woman working as a virtual receptionist, dealing with an angry caller, using a headset

Summary

  • An angry caller is a challenge for any business’s professionalism, accountability and empathy.
  • Knowing how to deal with irate callers is an important part of customer service.
  • Teaming up with an experienced and professional answering service is one of making sure you can give your customers the satisfaction they deserve. Discover more about the benefits a good call handling service can bring.