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Tips for De-escalating Customer Complaint Calls


What should you do when faced with angry customer complaint calls?

Image of call center agents handling customer complaint calls

There are many ways one can go about calming a customer, especially when that customer is past the point of no return.  I’ve been faced with that dilemma during customer complaint calls on many occasions.  For me, humility has been my best defensive weapon.  Knowing that it’s not personal, it’s just the customer’s frustration with the problem; I can put myself in a place to be a sounding board.  To listen and allow the caller to air their grievance without get emotional.  Being professional and calm through the process of customer complaint calls has always been a plus.  That’s always the big advantage in de-escalating customer complaint calls.  It also helps to restate the issue once it’s been delivered, because you‘ll accomplish a lot by doing so.  It shows your interest in assisting the customer and the fact that you are listening. After all, customers just want to be heard and to find a solution to the situation.  An apology with genuine sincerity goes a long way.  So, acknowledge the problem and assure them that you can help make a difference when on customer complaint calls.

I searched the web and found the following tips from Emilia Lamberto, which support my practices for  de-escalating customer complaint calls.

  • Remain calm. Whether you’re getting cussed out or taking personal verbal attacks from a customer, you must avoid, at all costs, getting upset or angry with the customer. This includes being sarcastic. If you feel as though you are unable to keep your cool, it’s best to hand the phone over to someone else or to transfer the call to someone more likely to be able to help.
  • Let the customer rant. It is likely that there is a lot that the customer wants to get off her chest. Let her speak, cuss, yell or whatever is necessary. Be patient with her. After she has finished, acknowledge her anger by saying something along the lines of, “We understand that you’re angry. You’re absolutely right, this shouldn’t have happened.” When she realizes that her concerns are being addressed, she will be more likely to calm down in order to get the situation sorted out.
  • Apologize. Tell the customer that you’re sorry for the problems she is having with the company or product. Explain that you vow to resolve this issue as soon as possible and that you will begin working on it as soon as you get off of the phone.
  • Provide him with options. Do not end the phone call by saying you will get back to him. Instead, provide him with solutions, ask him which sounds best to him, and after agreeing, provide him with a specific time frame when you will get back to him. Two or three days max is an acceptable time-frame, but the earlier the better.
  • Stay true to your word. Do not hang up the phone forgetting about the customer. Start working to resolve the issue immediately, or hand the issue over to someone who can start working it out. Any delay will create even more frustration.
  • Give the customer what she wants. If the customer was misinformed and is ranting because of her own mistake, don’t spend time arguing with her. Instead, think about how much time you’re wasting trying to get through to an angry person. It’s better to just let the customer have what she wants, and then politely guide her to the proper web page where your policy is. This will help to avoid problems in the future. Be as humble and courteous as possible. Try not to come off as though you are blatantly telling her that she’s mistaken.

These are the guidelines that have helped me steer through the muddy waters of customer complaints calls in the answering service and call center environment.  Once you have the tools and knowledge to address conflict in the work place, the process becomes less difficult to manage.   And you’ll be awarded with more successful endings when you encounter customer complaint calls.



This entry was posted in Call Center News, Customer Service, Quality Assurance and tagged , , by Cheryl LaBaw. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cheryl LaBaw

Cheryl L. LaBaw joined Sound Telecom as Director of Customer Relations in 2012. She is responsible for maintaining a high standard of service quality through ongoing monitoring and coaching of our call center agents. Prior to her arrival at Sound Telecom, Cheryl invested over 31 years in the customer care and service areas with United Airlines. She brings a wealth of knowledge and ideas from her experiences there in addition to working over 13 years in their call center. Cheryl’s skills in conflict resolution and customer satisfaction make her an excellent addition to the management team. As a Flight Attendant and Safety Professional she provided a more personal touch to customer concerns and safety issues. Mrs. LaBaw is passionate about health issues and has served her community by volunteering at Swedish Medical Center for three years in the Community Health Education Department. She also supports various youth organizations and child health and welfare organizations.