Handling challenging client conversations comes with the territory when working as a customer service agent. Here are four strategies to create a better experience.
When working in a customer service role in an insurance agency, there is bound to be conflict. It can be frustrating if your goal is to help the customer and they do not respond positively to your efforts.
Here are four strategies for handling those challenging client conversations:
1) Be empathetic. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. This can be difficult when dealing with an angry customer but taking a moment to step into their shoes can be a great way to reevaluate the situation and get to the root of the issue.
Chances are there is an underlying issue causing their frustration. They may have had a bad experience with the agency in the past, or perhaps, they are having a rough morning with a temperamental toddler. Either way, taking a moment to dig into what is going on will give you an opportunity to find out how you can help.
2) Slow the conversation down. As a client tries to communicate information while stressed or angry, they may speak louder, faster and non-stop, which can create more communication barriers. One tactic you can use is to very calmly and respectfully interrupt the conversation. Assure them that it is your top priority to help, but you need to accurately record the information they are providing. Politely request they slow down so you can be sure you catch all important details. Framing the request by emphasizing your desire to help will provide reassurance of a common goal.
3) Choose your words and your tone wisely. Just as the client's tone and choice of words can have an impact on you, the same goes for the words and tone you choose.
Try explaining what you are sensing with simple statement like, “It seems you are very frustrated." Another option is to repeat back to them what you are hearing along the lines of, “It sounds like you're frustrated that we didn't get that information for you when you needed it." The client may confirm or correct your statement. Both options convey to the client they are heard and understood.
4) Reach out to a supervisor for support. If the options above do not diffuse the conversation and the client continues to yell or be disrespectful, it is time to get someone with more authority involved. Politely excuse yourself from the conversation with a simple statement of, “This is no longer a productive conversation. I am going to put you on hold while I get a supervisor who can help us work through this problem." Allowing someone else to assist with the conversation may be the best route to finding a resolution.
Most interactions with customers will be pleasant and positive, but there will be those that feel impossible to win. Implementing these tips will help you to better manage stressful conversations and will lead to a better experience for both you and the client.
Olivia Schmitt is the director of marketing & communications at Total CSR.