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A question that comes up a lot for independent contractors is how to give the best customer service when a customer is having a tough time!

We have some answers for you!

Every day can bring new challenges to a customer service agent. The customer could be calling with a question or problem with their product or service. Often the customer is annoyed. Sometimes they are angry when they reach you. Things could get worse when the customer feels their complaints aren’t being treated fairly. Or they might feel the result is not what they expected.  Or it could be your customer is merely having a bad day.

What can you do to make sure you make them feel better? And how can you give advice that makes sense? And you want to do this while still keeping the customer satisfied!

Here are five quick and easy tips to help you along the way:

Breathe

The calmer you are before the conversation starts, the better you’ll be with handling people who become demanding. Try taking mindfulness breaks throughout the day. There are plenty of apps* that can guide you. And some take no longer than five minutes to complete. Remember, the calmer you are, the better you are at handling difficult conversations.

Try to slow down the conversation.  Your customer will feel their problem is urgent, and they just want to get on with their day. Their difficulty may start spilling out a mile a minute. Try to slow it down. One way to do this is to use their pauses to play back your understanding of the problem.  For example, “may I just check I understand you correctly…?”. Make sure you are being genuinely pleasant and not just smiling through gritted teeth.

And keep breathing and relaxing your shoulders.

Don’t take it personally

At the risk of stating the obvious, the customer isn’t angry with you personally, but with the situation in which they have found themselves. Often when a person is ill-tempered with you, he or she becomes sarcastic or otherwise less than polite, it can remind you of an argument in your own life.  That can bring up bad feelings that don’t have to do with the situation at hand. Try to listen to the problem and not to the other noise.  They don’t really know you, so their seemingly personal attacks can’t really be aimed at you. When you show them you’re cool-headed in the face of their anger, you can begin to get them on your side.

Demonstrate that you are listening

Sometimes people just want to vent. At the same time, you need to get to the heart of the matter efficiently so that you stay on track with your goals.  In the end, though, if you let them express their frustration and their grievances – even if you already know the answer – you will give them the benefit of feeling valued and listened to.  Take notes while they’re speaking, so you can filter the important points.  Then take the time to make sure you understand their fundamental problems.

Give something back

Undoubtedly, making promises you can’t keep will only make matters worse, but if you can’t meet all of the customer’s demands, try finding a middle point. It may not be their ideal solution, but be honest and straightforward, explain why you are making particular suggestions. Ideally, you don’t want to put the customer on hold to check something.  However, if it could mean the difference between an annoyed customer and one who believes they were heard, take the time to see whether there are options you hadn’t considered.

Be Human

We have all been in the position of being annoyed or angry with an organization and had to make a telephone call as a result, so try to demonstrate a real empathy with the customer.  Tell them that you understand their frustration, reflecting their salient points. If a customer is really worked up, they sometimes will take it out on the first voice they hear, so no matter what you do, you can’t make it better. Offer another voice if you need to – perhaps a colleague or manager. Try to judge when this might help defuse the situation effectively.

Being human also means that sometimes, no matter what we do, we can’t help. When a customer becomes truly abusive and will not listen, you may have to end the call, but try to tell them what you’re doing clearly and politely.

Mindfulness Apps and Downloads

Calm – subscription, offers a free trial

Guildford Press guided meditations – Free to download on SoundCloud

Headspace – Offers free taster sessions and in-app purchases

Plum Village – completely free. Loads of guided meditations from the Buddhist tradition

There are loads more on offer in the iOS and Android app stores and through various websites.

Join us today at NexRep in customer service! Click here to become a part of our independent contractor team!

 

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