Angry Calls vs. Abusive Calls
Is it ever acceptable to hang up on a customer call? Believe it or not, the answer is yes. While the first goal of a call center agent is to respond courteously to all customer questions and complaints, there will be instances where there is simply no possibility of a successful resolution. The challenge is separating angry calls, which may be turned around by a sympathetic agent, from abusive calls, in which an agent may have no choice but to terminate the conversation.
Most angry calls are the result of a previous product or service experience that went awry. The caller is angry with the company and is ready to vent that anger on the first company representative they reach – the call center agent. There should be best practices in place at the call center for handling an angry customer call, which typically include a clear and direct apology for the customer’s inconvenience, and a steady, calm delivery that may diffuse the raised emotions on the other side of the call. If the agent can offer fair compensation, most angry callers will be satisfied.
The main dividing line between anger and abuse is the nature of the verbal attack. An abusive caller will personally attack the agent, through derogatory comments and profanity. The challenge for the agent is to remain calm and try to reduce the caller’s hostility level. A reminder that the call is being recorded may change their attitude, but if it doesn’t it should be permissible for the agent to tell the abusive caller that their call will be terminated if he or she does not calm down. The agent should then inform that manager of what has happened.
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Recorded examples of angry and abusive calls can be valuable tools in training. Coach agents on the difference between the two, and review how the agents on those calls handled the situation. Exposure to “the dark side” of the call center agent job can only help agents with they are faced with similar situations.
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