Customer Service Tips from a Social Worker Turned Support Rep

Customer Service Tips from a Social Worker Turned Support Rep

Dos and don'ts of dealing with tough customers


How many times have we dealt with a customer who is irate and yelling and all we want to do is yell back?

Take a deep breath.

I’ve had this experience many times. Yelling back will feel satisfying in the short run, but you can say goodbye to that customer.

Controlling yourself and finding a way to calm the customer down will reap both financial rewards (loyal customers) and emotional rewards. Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, if you manage to control your anger and defuse the other party’s anger, you’ll actually feel really good about yourself.

How to do it?

Check out – and live by – these customer service do’s and don’ts.

Don’t tell an emotional customer to calm down.

Has anyone ever told you to calm down? Has it worked? The most common reaction to being told to calm down is to become more upset and frustrated.

Don’t take things personally.

People can get really mean when they have spoken to a lot of people and their problem is still not solved, or they have tried to speak to people and have gotten the run around. They have finally gotten to you, who are ready and willing to help them, but they do not know that at the beginning and are coming in expecting more of the same frustration.

Do listen to what the angry customer is saying.

It is hard to listen to someone who is annoyed and shouting. Try to tune out the tone of voice and truly understand what the customer is complaining about.

Do speak in a calm voice no matter how the customer is speaking to you.

Most of the time customers just want their problem fixed and might not have the best tone. If you speak in a calm manner, chances are they will be more willing to listen. If the customer is being truly abusive, you don’t have to be subjected to it. Transfer it to your supervisor.

Don’t tell the customer that everything is fine with the product or service and that the problem is the customer.

Do repeat back to the customer in your own words what you feel the customer is trying to convey.

The customer will feel validated and that their complaint is heard. It is only natural that when we hear a complaint about our company we will want to defend the quality of service. That can come later. Our main goal when speaking to a customer is to hear what they have to say and make sure we understand them correctly. If we don’t understand the problem, it becomes difficult to correct and we will still be dealing with an irate customer. Usually a customer just wants to feel that they are heard. Once that occurs they are more likely to calm down and speak to you in a normal tone of voice.

Don’t lie or make promises that you cannot deliver.

Do tell the customer the truth.

If you do not know how to solve the customer’s problem, don’t make something up. Tell them that you have to check on it and will get back to them. Only promise them a refund if you have authorization to do so. Customers want to feel that they can trust the company and its employees, so if an employee makes a false promise or tells them something that is not true, that customer will leave. Honesty truly is the best policy.

Don’t say you will get back to a customer and then forget about it.

Do call or email them a few days after you spoke with them and make sure that whatever problem they were having has been resolved.

If you say you are going to check in, then you must do it for the sake of honesty. But it’s worth doing even if you didn’t mention it. The customer might not remember if you don’t check in, but they will definitely remember if you do. It will reflect well on the company and the customer will feel cared for. That is exactly the purpose of customer service!

Don’t try to upsell a product when you are dealing with an irate customer for the first time.

Do try to speak to them about different products after you have established a relationship with them.

Trying to sell more products should be the last step in customer service. After you have validated the customer’s feelings, listened to what they had to say, and checked in on them a few days later, only then can you try to speak to them about different products. If someone is complaining about the service they are receiving or a problem they are having, the last thing they want to hear is that the company wants more money. Once the relationship is established between you and the customer and the customer knows they can trust you and the company, they will feel comfortable hearing about more products.

Customer service is the backbone of any business. We have all had positive and negative experiences with customer service and we know how each one made us feel. A positive experience will lead to a happy customer, which will lead to more purchases from that customer, as well as word-of-mouth revenue. If a customer is happy, they will recommend a company to his/her friends.

What’s the key?

Listening, understanding and giving. That’s what people want out of any relationship. The relationship between customer and customer service representative is no different.

DebbieSubmitted by Debbie