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How to Remain Calm as a Call Center Representative

Call center representatives have gotten a bad reputation in recent years. From the famous interaction between a Comcast customer service representative and one of its customers this past summer to last year’s "worst customer service ever" with Time Warner Cable, there have been numerous videos of horrific exchanges between customers and customer service representatives.

The thing that most consumers fail to realize is that when they deal with a CSR over the phone, they have to follow call center procedures outlined by the company during the training process. Indeed, certain things could very well be common sense, but common sense is usually tossed out the window in most call centers, and this is not the fault of CSRs.

When the situation becomes frustrating and infuriating, a customer may start screaming, cussing, and yelling out death threats. It’s a normal reaction to respond to this type of behavior by hanging up or defending yourself, but this is not permitted in a call center. The only reaction that is allowed for a CSR is to apologize profusely and inform them to "Please bear with me."

Unfortunately, it’s a lot easier said than done, but if they don’t act in this manner, then these employees may lose their position. It was recently reported that an employee at Comcast exacted revenge on a customer by changing their billing information to "A**hole Brown." This is not right or mature.

The only way for a CSR to remain calm is to follow these five steps and hope that the grievance gets rectified almost immediately:

1. Empathize

Nobody likes a robot in customer service. A customer may already be peeved by their problem or the constant attempts at gaining a connection with a CSR, so lacking any interest and just uttering "Yes, ma’am/sir" will only anger them even more. This means that you should empathize with the caller – remember, you’re a customer, too, and you’ve likely had previous issues with any of the services you’ve used. Be kind, polite and understanding.

2. Indoor Voice

The call center may be quite loud, but always use your indoor voice. Instead of screaming at the person because they don’t understand how to remedy their problem or they’re yelling at you, always invoke the indoor voice. Never scream, shout or yell at the customer; plus, doing so could hinder your quarterly review.

3. Listen

When a customer calls, ask what their difficulty may be and listen to what has been happening. Don’t interrupt them and provide them with solutions that they’ve already tried. This will hurt the quality of the call and perhaps enrage the customer. By listening attentively, the customer feels they’re being given the attention they’re paying for.

4. Take a Deep Breath

No matter what, a CSR will deal with an irate customer at least once a day. Indeed, a phone call like this can weigh you down and tear your soul apart. However, when this does happen, take a deep breath (ensure they can’t hear you do this), and relax. Life isn’t that serious, and the shift will nearly be over, so you won’t ever have to deal with that customer again.

5. Confirm the Information

Finally, confirm the customer’s inquiry by paraphrasing their problem. A CSR does this to invoke confidence and to suggest to the customer that you are paying attention and not playing a game of solitaire. Furthermore, at the end of the call, confirm that everything is satisfactory and if there is anything else you can do for them.

Here are three additional tips that a CSR should avoid at all times:

  • Hitting the hold/mute button
  • Being indifferent and not going the extra mile
  • Interrupting them during their vent

A customer service representative has a very tough job. Not only do these employees have to deal with the grief being presented by the caller, but also by their superiors. A call center can be a very toxic environment, and soul-draining. Nonetheless, a job needs to be done and you’re being paid to take on these tasks, even if they are gut-wrenching. Good luck!

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