Answers from frontline reps
Difficult calls can come in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes, the call is difficult because the caller relayed bad news to us (a death in the family, an upsetting event). Sometimes difficult calls take another form. They might be the result of a mistake made previously or a firm stance on a policy that cannot be altered to result in a positive outcome for your customer. Difficult calls, regardless of the originating event, are a tough moment in a representatives day.
The common key to closing difficult calls is empathy. It can be challenging to thank the customer for his or her feedback, but I assure you, this is the best approach. If the customer no longer wanted to do business with your company, he or she would do just that. The customer would end all relationships with your company and find another alternative. When you do not know why this happens, it can leave your company at a loss. Companies want to improve their products and services to include their customers, but sometimes roadblocks can stand in the way of successful implementation.
So when a problem occurs, a wise coworker of mine says it best: “I certainly understand your concern. I will be sure to address your concern with my management.” These two phrases convey that you understand the customers apprehensions and you will communicate the customers views to a level where potential change can be evaluated.
Megann Wither, Navy Federal Credit Union
Your “sign off” to a customer call can be one of the most important connections you make with your caller. As you feel the call coming to an end make sure that you have answered all of the questions that the caller has presented to you. Always ask “Is there anything else I can help you with?” and then wait for the caller to reply. A lot of customers will think of something right at the end of the call.
Once you have confirmed that there are no additional questions, confirm any actions you stated you would perform once the call is ended. A quick recap of the call will show the customer that you were actively listening.
Lastly, thank them for calling and use their name. Tone is very important in the way you thank the customer, you need to sound genuine, especially if the call has been difficult for either you or the customer. Not all bad calls are unwarranted and your customer needs to feel as though they were heard and that it was important they called for assistance.
Rachel Dillon, Assurant Specialty Property
When I sign off on a call I tell members to have a Blessed week/weekend. I feel that saying this shows that we care more about you and do genuinely want you to be successful versus just wanting your business. I incorporate this on each and every interaction whether its intense or just a common call. To me this lets our members know they are truly valued and respected by their organization!
From the beginning of the call; you should be building rapport, making it a very engaging conversation, so at the end of the call everything comes off the right way and they see that its genuine. My goal is to produce the best experience they will ever have from any organization and for them to remember this level of excellence for years to come.
Ray Picket, Navy Federal Credit Union
I try to make sure that my customers never feel like they are just a number in a quota to me. I try to help them as best I can. However, I also dont waste their time if I know that I cant help them. I always let them know to whom I will be transferring them and why, however, I try to always make sure that the person that they will be transferred to is the right person.
I try to stay sympathetic and as positive and upbeat as I can. If I cant help them, I apologize for their inconvenience. This doesnt mean it is our fault, it just means that I understand their issues and frustrations. It helps to sooth an upset customer at times. I always thank them for their call and advise them to please feel free to call again anytime they need to.
All in all I try to keep a level head and stay calm even if the customer is so upset that they are cursing. I have had it happen before, and I am pretty sure it will happen again. I try not to take it personally as I know they are frustrated and upset.
I make sure before I let a customer go, that they know I understand why they are frustrated, that I want to continue to have their business in the future, and then I wish them a good day.
Jo Sprowl, SKF USA Inc.