I'm sure you have provided extensive training on how to "deal with" an angry customer. You've likely provided dozens of tips and techniques to calm down that customer so you can move to problem resolution. BUT...have you provided training for that rep on how to handle their personal emotional response? Until you customer service representative is able to manage their own emotional response, they are not going to be able to help their angry customer.
It is our natural instinct to protect ourselves when being attacked, known as the Fight or Flight response. So, the first step is to determine if your rep's natural response to a screamer is Flight or Fight. And then work on techniques to balance that initial response so they can focus on all that great stuff you have taught them.
- Fliers want to get away from the yelling. Since they can't leave their chair, they will shut down emotionally. They will allow the customer to take complete control of the call. You might witness attempts to throw in an apology and some empathy, but those actions only enrage the caller more. They might start crying and beg their supervisor to take their call.
- Fighters want to push back. They will start explaining to the customer WHY the customer should be listening to them. They will want to protect the company with their answers. Their speaking volume might go up and you might hear cringe-worthy phrases like "Sir if you would just listen to me we could resolve this quickly." The customer will usually respond by demanding a supervisor and this rep will make sure the supervisor knows what an idiot this customer is before transferring the call.
So how do you help them find a path through their emotions to be able to focus on problem resolution, to use all that great training you have provided? It's definitely not the one size fits all that has long been encouraged in our call centers. Each group has special needs.
- Fliers need to find ways to take action, to break out of the desire to run. This is the group that would benefit from a stress ball or standing up and stretching. Fliers usually find it very helpful to start taking detailed notes, the action restarts their brain and has the added benefit of helping them give coherent feedback to their customer.
- Fighters are the ones who need the calming exercises such as deep breathing and focusing on a photo of a loved one or a relaxing place. You definitely don't want a fighter pumping on a stress ball as anxiety will build as the adrenaline starts flowing with the aggressive action.
Help your reps who are working in high stress customer service positions identify their personal response style and learn the best way to control their emotional response. They will be much better prepared to help that customer who is screaming and bring about a meaningful resolution.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net