How To Make Angry Callers Happy and Convert More of Them
”It ain’t about how hard you hit – it’s about how you can get hit and keep moving forward,” Rocky Balboa
Pardon me for romanticizing over-the-phone sales in the epigraph, but every live operator in a call-reliant business, whether B2B or B2C, knows that it’s not only about refined sales techniques but also about how you deal with angry customers. Converting seemingly hopeless callers is just as science as it is art, combining a tangible scientific background and room for human empathy, creativity, and soft skills you can’t define with formulas.
Before we start, let’s emphasize how critical good old phone calls are, even despite the flood of newer technologies like, for example, chatbots. Around 29% of millennials and 31% of Gen Z use phone calls to contact brands – and it has long been proven that up to half of these calls convert.
Anyway, what should you do when the caller’s dissatisfaction is off the charts, and you know it? Is there a way to soothe angry callers? And more importantly, can you satisfy or at least appease potentially problematic callers even before they reach their prey of a live operator?
Without any further ado, let’s dig into it.
Part 1 – What Do You Do if All Hell Broke Loose, and It’s YOUR Fault?
As much value as the “customer always right” concept may have for prioritizing customer satisfaction, let’s acknowledge that there are plenty of situations when it doesn’t hold water. Customers can be wrong.
Nevertheless, it’s also true that these are live operators who are traditionally responsible for the flow of a conversation and, hence, its breakdown. However, with all the knowledge, problem-solving skills, and adaptability, by no means of imagination are call agents immune to making mistakes in live conversations.
Below are the five most popular conversation mistakes live agents make and how to correct them, possibly on the fly.
Mistake #1: Lack of Active Listening
Listening actively to an angry caller isn’t just about hearing out the complaints but deeply understanding the context of the message and when to engage instead of just patiently waiting for your turn to speak.
Lack of active listening is quite hard to quantify when evaluating the agent’s performance, as it combines lots of techniques: paraphrasing, asking questions, using encouraging words, and more. Regular call quality checks can help you spot the issue on time.
How to correct the mistake: In manager-employee relationships, active listening training sessions improve employee satisfaction rates by up to 30%, and such sessions will likely do the job for inbound calls as well. Even the notorious caller-centric approach and empathy building can significantly boost active listening skills.
If, however, you’ve realized that you’re not listening to a caller DURING a conversation – or, worse, the caller called you out on it – there are a few things you can do depending on how the talking goes:
- Politely ask to repeat the missed part: “I apologize, I didn’t quite catch the last part. Could you please repeat it?”
- Paraphrase the part to prevent misunderstanding: “Just let me make sure I’ve got this right: you need the limited software version?”
- Take notes to prevent further misunderstanding: “Could you please give me just a few more seconds so I can write down your main points for better service?”
The most important thing to understand, though, is that listening lapses are proportional to the workload of the live operator. Maybe you just need to reduce the call volume for a particular agent – for example, by automating your call processing routine, improving call distribution, or learning more about your callers.
Mistake #2: Interrupting the Caller or Overtalking
The ideal call length is highly debatable, ranging from 5 to 15 minutes depending on the business industry, the caller’s intent, and the research itself. However, it’s clear that the two deadly ends of the stick are interrupting callers untimely and overtalking.
How to correct the mistake: A viable way to avoid unnecessary interruption and overtalking is writing guidelines for the optimal conversation timeline, keywords, tone, and interaction patterns. With today’s call tracking, you can draw all the hard data you need for scripting the ideal call and use this data as guidance with a satisfactory margin of error.
Mistake #3: Overpromising to Recurrent Callers
One of the worst-case scenarios is when an angry caller comes from a group of loyal customers. Most such callers are dealing with mismatched expectations: you’ve set the bar of expectations so high that your product couldn’t match it.
How to correct the mistake: If the overpromising did take place, it’s better to acknowledge the mistake and the caller’s frustration. A reply akin to: “It makes absolute sense that you’re upset,” and apologizing may be a good first step toward saving the customer. Next, you can ask them to elaborate on the problem to understand better why the mismatch happened and how you can fix it. Finally, while adjusting the caller’s expectations, you can offer a bonus to compensate for the incident.
Mistake #4: Showing Emotions
It’s no secret that we purchase on emotions and justify it using logic. Moreover, according to Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman, as many as 95% of purchase decisions are subconscious. In the context of angry calls, this only means one thing: live operators should go the extra mile to suppress their negative emotions even if they genuinely believe they have all the right to express them.
Imagine a typical situation when an operator receives a few dozen calls in a row from angry customers who were automatically charged their annual subscription fee for a service they were no longer using. Thousands upon thousands of companies process such cashback requests daily, but the success rate – how many customers remain out of those willing to make a cashback – mostly depends on how well agents handle these calls emotionally.
How to correct the mistake: Always uphold professional standards, avoiding anything that can escalate the situation or make the caller even more agitated. Try to shift the emotional focus of the conversation toward the worthy alternatives the caller can get. Turn the tables with a new brilliant offer.
Mistake #5: Translating Negative Experiences into Future Calls
Finding a silver lining in difficult situations is a life-saving skill for a call agent, but it’s also true that resolving every dispute is impossible. You can’t please every caller no matter how hard you try, but what you can do is leave negative experiences behind as soon as the bad call ends.
How to correct the mistake: The simplest and arguably the most effective strategy to recover from angry calls is taking a short break afterward to clear your mind. During the break, you can remind yourself of successful interactions or discuss the challenging call with a supervisor. You can even engage in stress-relief activities like playing a table tennis match if the office allows.
Part 2 – Improve Live Calls Handling With Caller Data
Improving your call processing strategically might be the most reliable way to establish a steady flow of satisfied callers. You may not even know why your callers are unhappy – only one out of 26 unhappy customers openly complain – but you surely can embrace the power of technology to improve caller experience.
Here are a few avenues you can address with call management software:
- Understanding your callers. An advanced call tracking system can collect exhaustive insight on a caller throughout the customer journey, from when the caller saw your ad until they converted or bounced. Differentiating callers by demographics, psychographics, and other personal data will help you make an educated guess about how to approach a particular caller.
- Routing callers to a matching live operator. Technologies like ACD and IVR can route callers according to predetermined parameters (this is what ACD does) – location, gender, history of interactions, etc. – and the real-time data the caller provides (this is what IVR does). A well-thought-out call distribution system will ensure every caller gets to a matching live operator with full command over the call.
- Preparing agents for a conversation beforehand. Not only does a modern call-tracking solution collect caller data, but it can also transfer this data in real-time to the agent in charge of the call. It looks like magic on the caller’s side: the live operator knows the answers to all questions, confidently guiding them toward the purchase.
Today’s call software market is growing like crazy, with many helpful solutions to tap into. For example, you can use call recording solutions to record important calls or all inbound calls just to feel safe. Likewise, you can simulate call campaigns with technologies like predictive modeling, checking myriads of future outcomes with different variables to enliven the winners.
The sky’s the limit for companies combining the human touch with undeniable technical progress.
How Do You Use Call-Tracking to Get More Conversions?
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