1. Look after yourself first
Before you start worrying about anything to do with your job, you have to make sure you’re looking after yourself. A call center, in particular, can be a very stressful work environment and it pays to make sure you can detach yourself from it in your home life. Anger Management Specialist at Mind and Power, Eileen Lichtenstein, believes plenty of rest and a healthy dose of mindfulness can help:

2. Be prepared

As much as you have a responsibility to make sure you’re ready for the job, your employer also has certain responsibilities to make sure you’re prepared for any potentially difficult situations. Business Consultant at S and E Consulting, Armando Alcaraz, explains what you should expect from your company:

3. Don’t take it personally

Never lose sight of the context of the situation you’re in. This is not a personal phone call, and if you do have to deal with a difficult customer, the first thing to remember is that none of this is personal. Remember the customer isn’t annoyed specifically at you, but rather at an experience they’ve had individually. Tish Squillaro, the author of the self-help book Mindtrash, explains how she rationalizes customer anger:

4. Let them vent
Some customers just need to let it out. They will already have prepared an idea of what they want to say to get it off their chest no matter how you respond, so often it’s just best to let them get if off their chest. There’s no need to interrupt and antagonize them, just make sure you’re noting what their frustrations are so you can address them all after. Customer Experience Expert, Shep Hyken, agrees that you should simply listen:

5. Bring your call back to life with C.P.R

Sometimes when you’re in the midst of a tough situation all your training can get lost. So, keep it simple. If your phone call is in cardiac arrest, Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal says just remember these three simple letters:

6. Be honest and assertive

Although you need to make sure you’re open and helpful, you also need to be assertive, especially with difficult customers. That doesn’t mean getting argumentative, but rather being clear on company policies and what you can do to help from the outset. If you start changing your mind or being unsure of yourself then the customer will sense your uncertainty. Eileen Lichtenstein expands on the importance of honesty:

7. Escalate it

If you don’t feel you can resolve the issue, then you may need to escalate the issue. Your manager is trained to deal with volatile customers and will probably have more experience. Use their experience to help both you and the customer if a situation has become too volatile. Director of Human Resources at Dupray, Pierre Tremblay, give his advice on escalation:

8. Don’t put up with abuse

Some customers are just too difficult to handle and you don’t need to put up with abuse. If a customer starts getting verbally abusive then tackle them and let them know you will not continue the call if they continue acting in such a manner. Camille Charbonneau, Mental Performance Consultant at Peak Perform, believes the key in such situations is staying calm and professional: