When contact centre staff are dealing with your customers, it’s vital that they have a grasp of the right words and phrases to be able to tackle tricky customers.

To do this, there’s a number of types of customer to identify and a number of good phrases to use to help resolve the situation so you keep your business running smoothly.

The most common types of difficult customer and phrases to help deal with them are:

  • Those who want to vent

Contact centre staff are often faced with customers who are angry about something completely unrelated to your business but want to take that grievance out on somebody. This can range from people who have just “had a bad day” to those who are going through personal stresses and strains which make them understandably angry. This type of caller, though, is difficult to deal with because – to contact centre staff – their grievance is unrelated to the business at hand and having to contend with them is a waste of time, money and energy. In order to help them though the conversation, though, it is still important to use as much empathetic language as possible.

Phrases:      “We really do appreciate your feedback…”

                      “What I can do right now is…”

                      “I’m so sorry you feel that way, as a solution may I suggest that…”

                      “Can I arrange an update call at a time that’s convenient to you?”

  • Those with a legitimate complaint

This is the most important complaint that contact centre staff have to deal with because how the conversation is resolved reflect directly on your business. If you have failed your customer in a major way, customers may seek recourse through legal channels or through the media so it’s vital that contact centre staff both know to escalate the issue as soon as possible to their team leader as well as using the right language with the customer.

Phrases:      “I’m sorry to hear about this, I understand how you feel…”

                      “Thank you for letting us know, I will deal with right away…”

                      “Thank you for your patience and understanding…”

  • Those who are offensive and rude

Because these callers are emotional, it’s important to deal with them without contact centre staff losing their cool. Thankfully, the duty of care between a company and their employees means that staff can terminate calls with customers who are overly abusive or obscene (it’s standard to give three warnings before ending the call) but in the meantime it’s vital to use language which tries to bring calm to the proceedings and for contact centre staff not to become emotional too.

Phrases:      “I’m going to do my very best to help you…”

                      “I’m sorry you’re upset, would you like us to call you back when you feel calmer or would you prefer to continue this conversation via email or the post?”

                      “I understand your concern but we cannot tolerate the language you are using…”

                      “I apologise but if you continue to use this language, I will have to end this call.”

  • Those who resort to threats

These callers are more intimidating than the previous group of callers and can be quite provocative to contact centre staff. It’s important when dealing with these customers that contact centre staff do not either react to the intimidation or give in to unreasonable demands. A lack of consistency will only set this type of customer up for further intimidating behaviour. The type of language used should reach a balance between formal and empathy.

Phrases:      “I understand your issue, let me see how I can help fix it…”

                      “I am more than happy to help you…”

                      “So I can take further action straight away, I recommend that you…”

                      “For the speediest resolution to this, I would ask that you…”