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All of us has had a bad “business” day just like a bad “hair” day. And with human nature, we want to “share” or discontent in many ways. This is not a good situation.

During these hours of discontent, if we are not careful, it will bleed through the phone to our customers.

A contrary point is when we make a call and encounter people who are having their bad “business” day, or worse, we get a call from a customer or a client customer that is less than happy with either the customer or your call center.

There are a myriad of reasons; a problem with the service, you may have said or done something that disturbed a client’s customer and the client is not happy, this list can go on.

Whatever the problem is or was, dealing effectively with upset people is a challenge for the best of us. Diffusing anger and handling difficult issues require special skills and practiced behaviors. It’s hard to be calm and courteous when others are out of control.

To maintain professionalism, try following these steps.

First, just listen. I mean REALLY listen to their opinion, grievance, complaint or venting. It is our nature to compute a solution and then verbalize a lame remedy BEFORE we have all the facts. You cannot offer a valid solution without fully understanding the situation.

The art of listening is patience and silence. Do not interrupt them, let them fully explain their situation and allow the anger to flow out of them, just let them vent… Most times the people will  calm down when they realize that you value them enough to hear them out and they may also begin to hear themselves and recognize that they are overreacting or acting inappropriately.

Second, just apologize. It does not matter who is to blame, the problem is a problem. You may not have had anything to do with the problem, but you do represent the company and you can offer a solution. Just tell the caller you are sorry and that you will help them by finding a solution.

By your willingness to be accountable the caller will start to calm down. They need someone to take responsibility. Make your apology with complete sincerity. If your tone of voice doesn’t match your words, you will aggravate and escalate the situation.

Third, be sympathetic. Identify with their feelings and let them know that you understand why they are upset, this validates the caller’s emotions and says that you are not going to be argumentative.

Fourth, accept responsibility for the situation. Assure the caller that you intend to resolve the issues. Explain to them that you can’t change what has already happened, but you will come up with a solution to the problem. Next, tell the caller exactly what you will do and by when. Do NOT make it worse by making promises that are outside of your control and then failing.

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