3 Essential Tips for Handling Difficult Customer Phone Calls

3 essential tips

3 Essential Tips for Handling Difficult Customer Phone Calls

There are many different reasons your customers might pick up the phone to call your company, so it’s always best to be prepared for every situation. Regardless of your business you are likely to receive difficult calls from time to time.

If a customer calls to make a complaint or to raise a specific problem, they may become frustrated, angry or upset. It’s essential for you to know how to respond, in order to provide excellent service and reach an amicable solution that satisfies your customer. Whilst it’s always good to adapt the call to suit the particular situation, the most successful companies will have the basic framework of a contingency plan in place that can be adapted for customer complaints.

Read through our advice to make sure you’re best equipped when it comes to handling difficult calls.

Allow the customer time to explain the situation


One of the most important things when it comes to handling any call, whether hostile or pleasant in nature, is to listen carefully to what your customer has to say. Often, when a customer is ringing with a complaint, they will want to get this off of their chest all in one go. Interrupting them is likely to result in further frustration from the customer. Place yourself in their shoes – if you had an issue that needed resolving, you’d want the other person to listen to you, and then to provide a solution.

Let the caller guide the conversation, ensuring that you listen carefully before you step in. You’ll want to have the best understanding of the situation before you try to offer a solution. Take notes where necessary, flagging anything you’re unsure of, but wait until the caller has stopped speaking before you ask questions.

Make the situation about them, not you

Providing excellent customer service relies upon putting the customer first. Empathise with their situation and consider what outcome you would expect or want from that situation if you were them. You are far likelier to turn a negative situation around by simply showing you care about the customer’s concerns and issues.

Sincerity goes a long way – responding well to difficult calls is about more than just offering a solution. You should never make excuses for your company. If a customer is calling about a late delivery, for example, you should apologise about this service instead of saying something like, “the company is experiencing a particularly busy period so a lot of other customers have received late orders too”. With this scenario in mind, you’ll also want to avoid generalising a customer’s complaint; instead treat each caller personally as an isolated case.

After a bad experience, customers will often expect some form of compensation as an acknowledgement of the issue. There are different ways to respond if a caller feels that your standard of service hasn’t met their expectations. You may be able to offer remuneration in the form of a discount code or a voucher for their next order, rather than a direct monetary refund.

Remain polite throughout

In difficult call situations, it can be all too easy to take it personally. If a customer is frustrated, they may speak rudely to you – sometimes intentionally, but usually unintentionally. Separate your personal feelings from the situation and remember that the customer is annoyed at your company, rather than at you. Keeping this in mind can help you maintain a more composed telephone manner, and will allow you to stay level-headed when responding to any possible rudeness or emotional outbreaks from the caller.

One of the worst things you can do on a call is speak rudely to a customer or lose your temper, even if the customer has done likewise. Never match an annoyed customer’s attitude. Instead, try to calm the situation by remaining polite, empathetic and sincere.

If the situation is getting out-of-hand and the caller is being especially abusive and rude, remain calm and notify them that you will not be able to continue speaking with them like this. Only terminate a call as a last resort.

Provide excellent customer service

If you need help managing your calls, our fully trained team of PAs are here to cover everything from basic reception calls to customer complaints. We operate as if we’re based in your office, directing your customers to you as necessary. Find out more by picking up the phone and calling us on 0345 056 8888, or email us at enquiries@alldaypa.com.

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