Recently I had a conversation (if you can even call it that) with a customer that left me baffled. The customer initially reached out to our call center to seek clarification on a product he had purchased. His first call with one of my agents didn’t go well, so naturally the call was escalated to me. Little did I know what I was about to walk into and what would ultimately lead to me having an epiphany.
As soon as I got on the phone the customer started firing with guns blazing. Have you ever had a call like that? His anger was nearly tangible and his words were sharp. He demanded answers yet failed to allow me the chance to speak. Anytime I attempted to interject, he cut me off and flung around more accusations. I quickly realized that this customer was going to be unsatisfied with any response given and that he didn’t actually call to seek ‘clarification’.
Now, did he have a question worth answering? Absolutely. Furthermore, I was prepared to explain his misunderstanding, which would have ultimately resolved the problem. Yet, he carried on making condescending and offensive comments toward me and my staff. Disrespect is one thing I have little tolerance for. Eventually I was able to request he send me documentation to review offline.
Here’s what I learned from this customer:
Not everyone wants to be helped
Although this customer initially claimed he was calling to ‘seek clarification’, I really believe he just wanted to let off steam in an unfair manner. Had he truly wanted a resolution, he would have allowed me and my team the opportunity to fully explain the answer due to the fact that it couldn’t be provided by simply stating ‘yes’ or ‘no’. This led me realize that some customers want to vent and complain without being helped.
Don’t take it personally
I’d be lying if I said it was no big deal. In fact, I may have beelined it to the restroom before my eyes started to water. Sometimes accusations feel real and personal, even when we logically know they are not. This customer made a couple personal comments that were entirely uncalled for. As hard as it can be at times, don’t take it personal. If you need a moment to pull yourself together, take it. Dust yourself off and move on. There are plenty of other happy customers waiting to hear from you.
When in doubt, email it out
If you know a customer is aggressive and impossible to deal with, keep communication online. Writing out your explanation will provide you with plenty of time to cool off and craft your words carefully. It is also a great way to keep track of what was said for record keeping purposes. I spent time the following day drafting an email and sending it to the customer. I had plenty of witty rebuttals but fortunately was able to hit the delete key before sending!
One last thing to keep in mind- you never know what kind of day/season they are having. A quick Google search of this individual provided plenty of proof that life has thrown them some curve balls, too. Keep in mind that although the call may be unpleasant for a moment, they most likely will still be miserable long after you’ve moved on. Although this doesn’t make their actions okay, it allows you to remain the bigger person and keep your dignity throughout it all.
Have you ever had an unpleasant experience like this? How did you handle it? I love hearing from you, so please leave me a comment below or send me a tweet!
PC: Ajay Lalu
* Please keep in mind that I am not condoning the tolerance of abusive calls. I have a high regard for respect and safety and give my entire team permission to terminate any interaction if they are ever grossly mistreated.