“Hey! I want to talk to a manager!”
Have you ever had a call that you knew would be trouble from the start? We’ve all had those, sometimes several times in a day. Most agents just sigh and suffer through the call as best they can. But that’s weak and doesn’t do anything for your numbers.
The best agents have mastered the call center skills necessary to reverse the situation. They turn this aggravated victim into a satisfied customer—or, if that’s not possible, at least calm them down to manageable levels.
You don’t have to be born with the gift of gab to do it (although that certainly helps). You just need to learn and develop the following skills:
1. Calm under pressure
The person at the other end of the line is having a bad day, and you’re the only visible outlet. That means you’re going to be the target of a lot of frustration, even if it’s not justified. Trainers will always tell you not to take it personally, but that’s hard to do with someone yelling into your ear at the top of their lungs.
And yet your trainers are right. Keep calm and let the customer run out of steam. Focus on their problem and not the tornado of emotion resulting from their actions. Sadly, this skill can only be improved through practice, so you’re going to have to sit through a lot of angry calls before you’re able to rein in your natural tendencies to defend yourself.
Putting yourself in the customer’s shoes is one of the best ways to remain calm. If you got overcharged by your phone company, you’d certainly lose your temper too, right?
Admit it; you know you would. But that’s just part one.
Part two (and this is the important part) is being able to communicate this empathy to the customer. Don’t go so far as to demonize the company you work for (that may get you fired), but commiserate with their situation and make them feel that someone appreciates their problem.
3. Attention to Detail
It’s difficult to do your job properly when facing an irate customer. You miss important details and up repeating things, which irritates the customer even further. Or you’re so completely caught up in the customer’s story you fail to uncover the simple solution. Attention to detail is key during stressful calls.
In fact, you could go so far as to say that attention to detail is one of the most valuable call center skills that you can develop. It will help you get the job done faster and with more accuracy than other agents. Customers will feel like you’re listening to their problems and appreciate the attention. You learn faster because you observe more.
So the next time you encounter a difficult customer, view it as a practice session for developing your soft skills. You’re building the experience that will help you identify and improve your weakness and gaining experience that is essential to future success.