How to Respond to Tough Customer Service Situations

How to Respond to Tough Customer Service Situations

Faith Ocampo Published on September 8, 2016Last updated on November 3, 2022

How well can your call center agents respond to challenging situations?

Preparing for worst-case scenarios allows agents to learn how to respond to customers the right way. During these moments, it’s even more crucial to show customers that your reps can handle difficult issues effectively.

frustrated call center agent squinting

However, it’s not advisable to use scripts.

When agents recite scripted lines, conversations become lifeless and dull, which is the last thing customers want. Instead of scripts, semi-structured but flexible responses are more useful. They allow reps to respond intelligently without having to shun their unique communication style.

No matter the challenging scenario your agents might face, remember that there is always a way to resolve the conversation without sacrificing your contact agents and the customers well-being. Tackling all of this is a must in your customer service training program.

Below are some challenging situations agents may encounter and tips for handling them.

  1. Transferring a Customer


    Many customers get annoyed when they don’t know why they’re being transferred, and a curt response won’t help.

    sad businessman on entangled telephones

    No customer likes being passed from agent to agent or from one department to another, but there are instances when you have to do this to better help them. In these cases, be considerate and tactful.

    Sir/Ma’am, I’m sorry but I have to transfer this call to Department B.

    Here’s a much better response:

    Hello, [name of caller]! Let’s work on this issue right away. I’m going to transfer you to Department B. They’re specialists on these types of issues, so I’m confident they can give you great advice.

    Letting customers know specifically why the call is being transferred is more reassuring than a vague response.

  2. The Customer Asks for a Manager

    customer service agent guided by call center team leader

    Customers may ask to speak to your manager for a variety of reasons. When this happens, be ready to listen to what they are saying and understand what they really need.

    Customers look for a supervisor because they don’t think they’re getting what they want from your customer service agents. Sometimes, they just want an honest response, a validation that the rep is giving their best to help them. So, if you’re certain about the issue and the solution you’re offering, be reassuring and speak with authority:

    Hi, [name of customer] I understand you want to be sure about your options. I assure you that this is the best solution for your concerns. My supervisor will tell you the same thing.

    I apologize if we currently don’t have a better option for you, but I will personally walk you through every step until we get this resolved.

    Understand that sometimes, however, getting your manager may be the best course of action. A second opinion may be all the customer needs to convince them there’s nothing more to be done and exploring other solutions may be necessary. Either that or there may be some specific resolutions only your supervisor is authorized to facilitate.

  3. Defective Products

    Getting a call from a disheartened customer is, in a way, a good sign. That means you still have a chance to make it up to them.

    annoyed customer on the phone with customer service agent

    Customers may express intense frustration, but your agents must empathize with them and act on the problem immediately. When your products don’t work as intended, you compromise the entire customer experience. This may increase your customer churn rate.

    Here’s an example of an appropriate response:

    I’m very sorry to hear about this. It seems like there’s been a mistake on our part, and we want to make your experience better. Can you tell me your address so I can ship a replacement immediately?

    We’d also like to send you a complimentary coupon to make up for this inconvenience.

    Remember that admitting your mistakes can help assure customers that you’re listening to their situation and willing to make things right for them.

  4. Impossible Requests

    In these instances, customer service agents must be firm but compassionate.

    concerned scared call center agent biting nails

    Brands strive to make their customers happy in every possible way. However, there are times when you have to say no, especially if granting a request means violating a policy or harming other customers.

    Hi, [name of customer]. I understand where you’re coming from. But as much as I want to fulfill all our customers’ requests, I’m afraid this is against our policy. We make sure to abide by our rules to give all customers equal opportunities.

    Can I perhaps tell you alternative ways to resolve this so we can meet halfway?

    It’s definitely hard to refuse a customer, but you must also stand by the policies your organization implements. As much as possible, look for other ways to improve the situation and explore these options with the customer.

  5. Unavailable Items

    Product shortages are a nightmare for every brand. When a customer wants to buy something that you don’t have, you may lose a lot of profit and customers may switch to a different brand. To avoid this, agents must use positive statements instead of negative ones.

    busy man at home using tablet laptop on the phone with customer service agent

    We won’t have that product until next month. Please wait until then to buy that item.

    Here’s a much better one:

    Thanks for your interest! The item will be available next month, and I can place your order right now so we can send it to you as soon as it arrives.”

    Emphasizing the desirable outcomes blunts the impact of bad news. When you point to the solution right away, customers are less likely to be disappointed.

  6. Your Online Services Are Down

    frustrated man calling customer service pointing to laptop

    Service outages may be caused by different issues stemming from your company or from any of the third-party providers carrying your services. Regardless, it’s your customer service team’s responsibility to handle the influx of inquiries, service update requests, and the general complaints from your customers.

    Respond immediately by acknowledging that an outage is happening and let your customers know what is being done to resolve it.

    I’m sorry, but our billing services are currently down.

    Here’s a much better response:

    Hello, [name of customer]. Apologies, but our billing system is down right now. We know you have some bills to settle, that’s why we are working on getting the outage fixed as soon as possible.

    Meanwhile, here are other things you can do.

    Owning the possible issue, doing something to fix it, and giving your customers updates are great ways of showing them that you’re invested in ensuring their needs are met despite obstacles.

  7. Ending a Conversation

    Simple closing statements like this are always well-appreciated by customers. Customer service interactions must only be closed when all concerns have been addressed.

    stressed out call center agent

    Ending a conversation properly leaves a good impression on customers, letting them know that you truly care about them.

    Before you go, is there anything else I can help you with?
    I’ll be glad to assist you.

    It’s important to ask customers if they have additional concerns or they might leave with an unresolved issue. This not only reduces the volume of calls you get but also improves the customer experience.

  8. Create better customer relationships when you outsource your call center needs to a reputable multilingual and multichannel BPO. With Open Access BPO, you won’t need to worry about training agents to frontline your brand because we provide in-house training and development programs to ensure your clients receive the best customer service they deserve.

    Contact us today to find out more!

     

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Faith is a digital media enthusiast aiming to become an active part of the tech world by sharing her insights. She likes to blog about everything digimarketing, technology, and social media.
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