How Would You Handle an Angry Call from a Customer?

Describing Ways to Deescalate the Situation

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The way in which you handle an interaction with an angry caller can lead to a successful resolution of the problem or a lost customer. Demonstrate your ability to handle a question about this situation with finesse by drawing on some tried and true phone techniques for handling tough customers.

Steps to Handling an Angry Call

Here are some techniques and steps to draw on to help shape your interview answer:

Listen to the Customer: You can tell if someone is angry within the first few seconds on the phone. Before you even try to diffuse the situation or talk him down, just listen to the whole story (without interrupting--not once!) while jotting down any significant points while the caller is talking. The notes will help you address his problem directly. Often times people first want to just be heard and communicate their frustration. Sometimes, after a caller expresses his unhappiness, he may apologize at his outburst and then allow you to move forward with solving the problem. However, if the caller sounds threatening or uses violent or vulgar language, refer to your company's policy about how to proceed. If the guidelines indicate you should end the call, do so immediately.

Stay calm: Speak in an even tone; don't get drawn into the caller's anger which will only escalate the issue further.

Keep in mind that the customer is angry at a particular situation rather than you. Think about how you'd feel if you were him and consider his point of view.

Repeat back what you've heard: Review the customer's main points and concerns and apologize for the issue. This enables the customer to feel heard, ensures that you have an accurate understanding of the issue, and gives him the sense that you're on his side.

This breather will also give him a chance to calm down.

Don't buy time with the hold button: You may think it will give the caller time to calm down, but in fact, it does the opposite, escalating the caller's anger by feeling shunted aside. If you have to put the caller on hold to research the situation, inform him of what you're doing each step of the way.

Take action: Make the caller happy--give him a refund or a voucher as per your company's protocol. Give him options on choosing a resolution to the problem which puts the control back in his hands.

Sample Answers

  • I would try to find out exactly what the problem was and evaluate what I could do to make it right.
  • I would ask the customer to explain the problem to me so that I could make sure that they spoke with someone who could help them immediately if I couldn't help.
  • I believe that when a customer is angry, they usually have a good reason to be. I would reassure them that I intend ​to help them in any way possible once they explain the situation.

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