Converting Irate Callers into Admirers

By: Sandeep Periwal

80% callers to a Call Center are irate. The other 20% call to seek information and can be considered not-irate.

The challenge here is to convert the 80% irate callers into admirers (repeat buyers, loyal-happy customer) who will admire you-the support agent, your company and its products / services.

In more than 60% of the cases, you will observe, the problem does not even exist.
It's the caller's perception, lack of knowledge or thoughts which needs correction.
The moment these factors are addressed, the caller turns into admirer.

So how do we handle irate callers?

Let's start by understanding their minds. Dealing with people is an all-out mind game.
If anyone is calling a Call Center, it's obvious that he is facing some problem(s) and he is unhappy about it. It could be a product / service which is non-functional, a credit card charge which is more than expected, product not delivered etc.

!b>The Approach

Step 1: Understand fully what the caller s trying to say. Listen to the caller. This is the best thing you can do right now. He has called for someone to listen to him. Give him space to talk his heart out.
Express your keen interest in fully understanding his problem.
It's a relief for the caller to know that the Customer Support Agent has understood his problem.

Remember, Ask less, Listen more, Understand fully & Agree.

Golden Rule: AGREE to the caller. Be on the caller's side when talking. At this time, you need to be in damage control mode. At no stage of the conversation, can you afford to argue with the caller or put forth a denial.

You need to turn your caller from a grumbling machine into a peaceful windmill. Only then will you be able to win him over. Remember, it's a futile exercise to swim against the tides.

Send strong (read explicit) feelers to the caller that you fully agree to what he is saying and that you are on his side.

The moment your callers understand that you have understood him, his anger is gone. He is at peace. He wants to listen to you now.

If you achieve this, you have successfully converted your caller into a listener.
Your battle is 70% won.

Step 2: Now that you have understood his problem and he knows that you have understood his problem, its time to solve the problem. Your caller is in receptive mode and he is eagerly awaiting a resolution.

Do not give an apology at this time.

Explain to the caller what he needs to do and how you will help him do this effortlessly.

If its a Credit Card Overcharge, explain to him that he was not overcharged (hypothetical situation) but he has accidentally miscalculated the numbers.
Don't make him feel as if he is the only fool on the planet. No customer wants to feel that way. It's pacifying to learn that others have committed the same mistake.

If a product is not received, give him the tracking details and advice him on the ETA. Let him know that the product is on its way and very soon it will be at his door-steps.
Tell him how this product has helped others buyers and he will want to buy it again.

If a product is not working, explain him, how to get it to work. Do not ask him to go read the product manual. Explain to him what he is doing wrong and what will get the product to work as expected. Existing customers are the most valuable asset your company can have. Not only will they save your marketing costs, but will help you in your sales by getting referrals. Hence remember to value your existing customers.

If something has actually gone wrong at your end, faulty or incorrect product delivery, incorrect charge on card etc; accept the error. Acknowledge that the concerned team has made a mistake and it must be corrected ASAP. Suggest a remedy as per your company's policy.

Agree that the trouble the caller has gone through cannot be compensated, but nevertheless, you would like to offer something for free and you will be very happy if the caller accepted it. Remember, the caller is now your friend!

Step 3: After everything is settled, put forth an apology. Apologize for the pain the caller had to go thru, the valuable time he has spent. Say that you were happy to help the caller and you have made a new friend today. Mention that if the caller faces any problems in future, you will be the person he should ask for.

These 3 simple steps will convert an irate caller into an admirer; win you a friend and your company a loyal customer.

Your day is made!

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About the Author:
Sandeep Periwal, is the Founder & CEO of Ramshyam Communications Limited a leading Call Center Services provider offering Inbound Call Center services over Phone, Chat & Email and Back Office Services.

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