Brazen Life of Business Insider has an interesting post on the above topic, and since we’ve not published in the blog on this topic, we’re going to repost it (with a few editings to show that we’re reading). Her points:
1. Kill ’em with kindness. It’s hard to maintain rage when you’re faced with a person who absolutely insists on remaining calm, polite and reasonable. Don’t be sickly-sweet, but genuinely nice.
2. Let them vent. Just listen for awhile, and appear active in doing so, with an ‘I understand’ or sort of grunt. They’ll run out of gas, and you’ll find out what the problem is.
3. Be firm. You know how far you can go towards solving a problem, although if your bosses are smart, they’ll have given you almost limitless power to solve problems. Don’t get to the ‘that’s all I can do’ statement too early, as a defensive measure. Have an escalation policy
4. Try to respect the person. This can be difficult if the person is throwing a hissy fit (or worse). A sympathetic tone will evidence respect.
5. Listen for the real problem. You might be tempted to jump in early to explain the company’s position, but don’t. The real problem might not come out for a bit…..the person might not be angry for the reasons they’ve stated. Repeat back the problem to see if you’ve got it down. ‘So what you’re saying is….’
6. Speak slowly. More slowly than you feel. Speed indicates defensiveness. Keep your voice soft and calm, even though you might think the caller is an idiot. Foreign (to US customers) customer service reps always loose it, and their command of English at this point, or the prior one.
7. Don’t take it personally. Even though the complainer might have called you everything under the sun. Stay calm, cool and collected.
8. Apologize genuinely. So many times you hear ‘I apologize’, and you know it’s not genuine, because of the number of times you’ve heard it. Remember, you should be speaking only about 20% of the time.
9. What could we do to solve this problem? This is the capper (and missed by Brazen Life), and should be your last ditch offer to the complainer. Sometimes a little humor might diffuse the situation, such as ‘say we shot the product designers one by one, would that make you happy?’