There are many different customer service roles out there, and many ways to be an effective member of a customer service team. Whether you are in retail, client services, hospitality, sales or any other customer-facing role, you are bound to face a number of difficult calls involving people who are unhappy. You are the front line of interaction, and often at times the person representing our client’s entire company; as such, you will want to handle difficult interactions with customers professionally – while still maintaining your dignity. Here are 5 ways we train our receptionists to handle difficult clientele calmly.

1. Listen

Truly listen to what the person is saying. Acknowledge the issue(s) and repeat things back to the customer to let them know you’re absorbing everything.

An angry customer just wants to be heard – not dismissed or ignored.

2. Empathize

Keep Calm and EmpathizeStep out of your comfort zone as you, yourself, in your own world with your own problems, and put yourself in your customer’s shoes while they’re venting their problem to you. This isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary.

Empathizing with the customer allows you to attempt resolving the issue calmly and objectively instead of defensively and subjectively. Think about all the times you’ve been unhappy with a service and have had to be the customer approaching the company; it can be difficult, and you’re not always in your best form. This little bit of understanding on your part can have extremely beneficial results.

3. Pause and consider

If your customer is going around in circles, or screaming and not listening to you, repeat the issues back to them and then offer to organise a call back once you have informed our client of the problem and hopefully made some progress with a resolution. Even if you don’t know what the solution is, our client should and offering to get back to the customer later gives them time to think about how best to handle the situation, and gives the customer time to calm down.

Taking a step back and remaining silent for a short period of time can give both parties time to process things and shift to a more diplomatic approach.

4. Be Communicative and Attentive

Let the customer know they are your number one priority in that moment, and follow up with them if applicable; if there is an issue that is ongoing, check in with them via phone or email. Even if you aren’t calling with a solution, people appreciate you letting them know they are on your radar and are important.

5. Consult Your Manager or Team Leader

If you feel as if you’ve exhausted all your attempts and resources, bring it to your manager or team leader. Their job is to advocate both for the customer’s best interests and for the well-being of their staff. They can effectively mediate and come up with decisive solutions which are most beneficial for the customer, the representatives, and the company overall. They can (and should) mentor you to deal effectively with similar situations in the future.