How to handle an abusive customer

August 26, 2014

If you have ever been working in the support department (phone,email,chat etc) then more often than not, you might have come across an abusive customer at some point. How would you deal with such a situation ? Yell back ? Discontinue the conversation abruptly? Just let the customer continue bashing ? Handling an abusive customer is a skill in itself.
Well, here are a few tips that we train our techs on, to deal with such scenarios-

* Understand the situation

Do not discontinue the conversation immediately. Talk to the customer and try to understand the situation. For example, he might be frustrated because he has been kicked around without any resolution to the problem. Another scenario is that he doesn’t have a genuine problem. Instead, he is harassing you just for the fun of it or may be, he is drunk . For you to understand the exact problem, you need to talk.

* Do not use scripts

Instead of using scripts which might irritate the customer further, try and add a personal touch to the conversation. Addressing the customer by name and letting him know that you want to help are some ways to achieve this.

* Keep your calm

Remember that the customer is not mad at you but the situation. Do not take it personally. If you have had a bad day, try out some stress management techniques. Counting from 1 to 10 , keeping a photo of your loved one on your desk are some ways to reduce stress. If nothing works and you have to get your feelings out then put the call on ‘mute’ and take out your frustration. And if it is an email/chat then you do not even have to bother 🙂

* Convey your intent and limitations

Let the customer know that your intention is to help him and for you to do that , he needs to co-operate. You and your company wants to keep him satisfied. If that doesn’t do any good then let him know that it is difficult for you to take the conversation further. Remind him of your limitations.

* Transfer it to another person

If things get out of control then let him know and transfer the call/chat to your supervisor or colleague. This would give him little time to re-group and there’s every possibility that he will behave when he talks to the next person. If it is an email then you can always forward it.

* Discontinue the conversation

If there’s nobody to transfer to or your the person dealing with the transferred session, make your intention clear once again that you are there to help him. If he still doesn’t co-operate then rather than being rude , let him know that this kind of behavior is unacceptable. Reiterate your company policy regarding employee abuse and discontinue the session.