Dealing with difficult customers on the phone

Certificate III in HospitalityWorking in hospitality establishments, you must be able to deal with difficult customers in a range of environments including the telephone.

 If a customer phones to make a complaint, you will also need to know how to handle this. If the caller is angry, respond only with courtesy and respect. Let the caller vent one’s anger then use effective questioning techniques to find out what the problem is, and how you can resolve the issue. 

When dealing with an angry or abusive customer, you must remain calm and rational. Listen to the caller and empathise. Consider how you would feel if you were in the same situation. Let the caller know that you will cooperate to negotiate a problem solution. Empathise by saying ‘I’m

sorry you feel this way Mr/Mrs…’ By saying, this you are neither accepting nor allocating blame, but letting the caller know that you empathise with them. 

By being polite and respectful, you will soon defuse the anger and be able to rationally negotiate a problem solution. If you are unable or unauthorised to resolve the problem, inform the caller that you are going to transfer the call to someone who is authorised to handle it. Ensure you pass on all relevant information to the authorised person in relation to the call. 

And that in most cases, the complaint or abuse is not actually intended to be personal. Do not react defensively.  

You will learn more about communication and dealing with difficult customers in your Certificate III in Hospitality.