Customer service representatives handle calls from angry people every day.

It’s not easy, but the ability to successfully deescalate these calls is essential to a company’s bottom line.

In fact, U.S. companies lose about $41 billion each year because of poor customer service. People don’t only share their negative experiences via word-of-mouth. In our digital age, they also post the details online.

If you are in customer service, you know all too well how unpleasant some of these situations can be! How do you calm the person down and fix their problem(s) without calling your manager?

Don’t worry. Below, we’ll go over five ways to deescalate an upset caller. Let’s go!

Young indian woman looks disappointed after shopping online and complaining by phone with laptop and shopping bags on the table

1. Remain Calm

When someone is yelling at you, it’s easy to go into fight-or-flight mode. You want to yell back or transfer the call to someone else.

Handling escalated calls well, though, requires an almost Zen-like calm. Take a few deep breaths, and remember the customer is not actually angry at you.

Callers are actually upset about their own problems. Try to be empathetic, and imagine how you would feel in their situations. You might be surprised to find you’d be angry too!

2. Listen

Angry people usually have a lot to say. By the time they are talking to you, their minds have been swirling around and around, repeatedly going over their issues.

That’s okay. Let them talk.

Your job is to listen. Then, when they are done, reflect back on what they said. Start your sentences with “I hear…” or “I am hearing…”

At this point, you are not trying to solve their problem. You are providing validation which is a crucial first step in diffusing a tense interaction.

3. Apologize to Deescalate an Upset Caller

A sincere apology goes a long way towards calming down an irate customer. An insincere one, on the other hand, will make the situation worse.

The more personalized your apology, the more heartfelt it will appear. Take some of the details from the customer’s complaint, and sprinkle them throughout your apology.

Also, make sure to follow your apology with a specific plan of action. Tell your customer how you are going to begin solving their problem.

4. Whatever You Do, Resist the Urge to Put Them on Hold

When handling difficult customers at a call center, the absolute worst thing you can do is put them on hold. Nothing is more irritating to an already angry customer than waiting on hold and not knowing what’s going on.

If you are researching their problem, talk them through it. Let the customer know exactly what you are doing as you problem-solve. This is one of the best ways to show them you care.

5. Make an Offer

Empathy and apologies are necessary to gain the customer’s trust. But if the phone call ends without anything other than an apology, only 23% of customers are satisfied.

On the other hand, if you offer an incentive such as monetary relief, that figure jumps to 73%. Clearly, the ultimate goal of all calls is either a resolution or some other form of compensation.

If there isn’t a clear solution, consider letting the customer choose which course of action to take. Having choices is calming because it offers a sense of control.

Above all, don’t end the call saying, “Sorry, there’s nothing we can do.” That’s a sure-fire recipe for getting the manager or supervisor involved.

Wrapping Up

Now you have five tips to deescalate an upset caller. If you remain calm and do not take the customer’s anger personally, your empathy will help you find solutions to their problems.

If you enjoyed this article, why not check out our blog? We have many topics to choose from, all relating to the answering service industry. There’s bound to be some useful information for you there!

Updated May 5, 2019