FOR USE ONLY: In Extreme Customer Service Situations

Anyone who's ever worked in customer service knows that it can be incredibly difficult at times, especially when you're dealing with a particularly angry customer. In my experience, in-person customer complaints never quite reached the level of intensity of some of those made over the phone, for obvious reasons. While many companies provide special training, scripts, and tactics for handling these situations, sometimes you'll experience cases you weren't quite prepared to handle. As they say, desperate times call for desperate measures, so here are some evasive maneuvers that you wish you could actually use in real life when tensions run high in the customer service department.


The Enemy Pawn Off Tactic

This is a tip that stems from my time working at a major amusement park in Orlando. As you can imagine, we would often receive angry phone calls from customers complaining about anything from the weather conditions during their visit, to the "offensive" wardrobe choices of random guests they stood behind in line for the spinning teacups ride. Unfortunately, it was my job to be the bearer of bad news and inform those irate guests that we could not control the rain, or that if people wanted to wear short shorts or crop tops in the 650 degree Florida sun, we can't tell them it's not okay. As per our training, we were instructed to defer particularly angry customers to a manager. I, however, took it a step further when needed. Here's how you can too:

  1. Once it's decided that a customer's anger warrants a manager's intervention, apologize profusely for the incident, and let the customer know that they're going to be transfered to someone “higher up.”
  2. Carefully evaluate your management staff. Draw upon past experiences and determine who is typically responsible for injustices such as, but not limited to, scheduling you on holidays, keeping you at work longer than you planned, or forgetting your birthday.
  3. Transfer the call to the determined culprit and happily carry on about your day.


The “Accidental” Hangup Maneuver

This one is great if you aren't able to use the previous tip and pawn an angry caller off on someone else, but desperately need a conversation to end. We've all fantasized about aggressively hanging up on a rude customer and telling them exactly where they can shove their problems. Unfortunately, that's not really an option, as the customer is “always right,” or whatever. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just can't take it anymore. So what do you do? How do you stop the madness? The answer is so simple you'll be surprised you never thought of it yourself:

  1. Let the customer express their anger, however long that may take. Be patient. It'll all be over soon.
  2. Once it's your turn to talk, hang up the line while mid-sentence. This creates the illusion that the call was dropped.
  3. If and when the customer calls back, conveniently run to the restroom, leaving someone else with responsibility of dealing with it.


The Punitive Hold Strategy

This is a great tip that I developed when I was a server in a restaurant. I tended to avoid answering the phone at all costs. It wasn't so much that I was too busy or because I didn't like talking on the phone. My issue with answering the phone during busy rushes was that the people on the other end of the line were often incredibly impatient, incredibly rude, and incredibly “hangry.” For those of you unfamiliar with the term “hangry,” it can be best defined as, “bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger,” and it is a real buzzkill to food service workers. When I would answer the phone with my overly chipper, corporate-mandated telephone greeting, only to be rudely interrupted by customers barking their to-go orders, it would instantly put a damper on my entire day. Then I realized that I had the power in the situation, and, unbeknownst to my managers (until now), I began to use it to my advantage. While this tactic may not make your customers any less rude next time, it'll help you feel better and keep your cool.

  1. When a customer calls and rudely begins ordering, politely interject with, “I'm sorry, sir/ma'am, may I place you on a brief hold?”
  2. Place them on hold for approximately 2-5 minutes.
  3. Return to the call and politely apologize for the wait. Reassess the customer's attitude. If there is considerable improvement, proceed with the call without incident. If the attitude has not improved, or has worsened, proceed with next steps.
  4. Once they being to order, politely interject once again with, “I need to check with the kitchen to make sure that dish is still available. One moment, please.” Place the customer on hold again, this time for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Return to the call, apologize once again, and let the customer know that this dish is, in fact, avaliable. Repeat steps 4-6, varying the reason for the hold slightly each time until the customer has either given up, gotten their attitude in check, or wasted thirty minutes of their life to order a simple cheeseburger and fries.

**While this example specifically applies to a restaurant setting, it can be catered (pardon the pun) for use in any industry.


The ChatBeacon Live Chat Solution

This tip is probably the best, most effective one listed and the good news is, it's one we would actually recommend you use. If phone support is giving your company a hard time, live chat support by ChatBeacon is a great way of being instantly available to assist your customers needs, without ever being verbally assaulted over the phone. Unlike with customer service hotlines, you won't have to worry about your customers feeling annoyed by endless prompts or extensive hold times and taking that annoyance out on you and your agents. Live chat gives your agents sufficient time to craft the perfect responses without any slip-ups. ChatBeacon even comes with bad word filters in case things get a little bit heated. It's the perfect customer service tool for your website and comes packed with features that give you an extra edge. The best part is that it can be added to your page in only a few minutes, following these simple steps:

  1. Click the link below to start a chat with one of our agents. Let them know your specific needs and they can help you find the perfect solution for you.Chat with Us
  2. Sign up for your FREE 14-day ChatBeacon trial and see for yourself what a difference it makes for you and your customers.
  3. Schedule a free demo with a member of our team and learn how to get the most out of our product!
  4. Enjoy your new, stress-free life.