Customer service representatives interact with customers on behalf of an organization. One of the ways in which customer service representatives interact with people is through the telephone. Talking with someone effectively on the phone is a form of art which must be learned deliberately. The phone conversation is different from other means of communication such as emails and letters.
Talking on the telephone differs from talking with a person physically because a telephone conversation is basically done through verbal communication unless when a video call is involved while talking physically with an individual involves the use of non-verbal and verbal communication. With phone conversations, editing and proofreading are not possible. The receiver of the call gets the message as it is being said by the caller or vice versa.
One of the toughest parts of customer service is knowing how to handle an impolite customer or answer rude phone calls. Business owners, as well as customer service agents, run into impolite customers/clients regularly. Rude customers have nothing against you. They are trying to communicate that they are dissatisfied with the way they have been treated or not satisfied with your company’s product or service. For this reason, it is advised not to take any of the insults and rudeness from a potential customer personal. Resist the urge to react in the same manner as the rude client.
Tips on How to Answer Rude Phone Calls Professionally
- Keep a notebook by your phone desk: Keeping a notebook close by helps you to write down certain information about your caller. This will help your ability to recall certain information about the caller. Write down the name of the customer in your notebook. It is wrong for you to ask an angry client for his name during the course of your conversation.
- Answer quickly: Leaving a caller hanging on a ringing line is unprofessional. Answering quickly shows your business is efficient and this can reduce the tension in the rude client. Learn more about basic business phone call etiquette here.
- Be polite and professional: Greet your client, introduce yourself, and identify yourself properly by providing your name and your company's name. For example,
“Hello, good afternoon. Monica Rogue speaking, welcome to Global Consult”.
Politely ask who you are talking to and ask the client how you can help him or her. Read about customer service telephone scripts here.
- Wear a smile: When you smile, your tone becomes more positive and friendly. Try this out, with a smile say something really negative aloud to yourself. How did it sound? You will probably notice that, regardless of what you said, your tone was more upbeat and friendly when you said it with a smile. Body language can be interpreted through vocal patterns. If you are talking on the phone with a negative posture, frowning face, and defensive attitude, it will come across in your voice. Smiling prevents you from raising your voice at your client.
- Speak slowly, clearly and professionally: Enunciate every word and avoid using sloppy language like “uh-huh”, “yeah” or “nope”. Do not use slang words or poor language. Respond clearly with “yes” or “no” when speaking. Never use swear language.
- Demonstrate sincere sympathy and understanding: Let the caller know that you understand how he feels, use words that are soothing. Words like;
- I understand,
- I’m sorry for any inconveniences this has caused you,
- Kindly bear with us,
Keep using words and statements that show you know how they feel.
- Listen more, speak less: Practice active listening skills. Pay attention to the caller, remove yourself from any form of distractions, and do not argue or interrupt the customer. The ability to listen is a problem in general, but it is very important to listen to the caller. It is a good habit to verbally repeat the information received from the caller when taking the message. Verify what you heard and transcribed the message accurately. If a caller is irate or upset, listen to him. If you cannot offer help to the caller kindly forward his call to the appropriate person who can help. Seek permission before forwarding the call.
- Use correct grammar: You have an angry client, you do not want to aggravate the matter with bad grammar. Speak in simple English language. Use polite words to make requests. For example, “can”, “may” or “should”.
- Call your clients by their names: Make use of the caller’s name as much as possible during the call. This adds a personal touch and shows that you are listening. For example,
“Mr. John Mark, speak on I can hear you”.
- Hold on: If you are unable to grant the request of your client, you can place the caller on hold while you seek for help from a colleague. Before you place the caller on hold, ensure you seek his permission to do so. For example, you may say:
“Can I place you on hold?” Never place any caller whether rude or polite on hold without due permission
- Ending the call: Never be in a haste to end the call, ask the caller if everything he called for has been answered. For example,
“May I ask if there are other things you would like to clarify?”
Thank the caller for his time and thank him for choosing your business. Do not hang up first, you may not know if there are other things the caller has in mind. Some people take offense if you hang up on them. They think you are trying to get them off the line. Make sure you hear the end click of the phone before you drop the call at your own end.
Customers are always right. There is no point yelling at a rude caller on the phone. Before you pick up the phone take a deep breath, wear a smile always and greet. Take a break after receiving a phone call from a rude client before receiving the next phone call, this will prevent you from transferring aggression to the next caller.