stressful customer interactions

4 Ways to Cope with Stressful Customer Interactions

Everyone has heard horror stories of angry customer interactions. If you’re working or about to work in customer service, the thought of ending up in a tense interaction can be a source of stress or even fear.

The good news is you aren’t alone. Close to 3 million people work in customer service and have many tips. Read on for some tips on what to do to prepare yourself for these situations.

4 Ways to Cope with Stressful Interactions

Being prepared to deal with angry customers will help you stay calm and recover quickly. Not sure how to prepare? Try these tactics:

Take a Deep Breath

Emotions run high in tense or angry conversations, and getting upset, flustered, or angry in response will only escalate the situation more. 

Taking a second to pause, take a deep breath, and evaluate what you want to say will help you stay calm and seem collected in front of the customer, even if you don’t feel collected.

Establish Boundaries

You’re a human, not a robot, and it’s ok to determine boundaries for yourself and your interactions. These boundaries can include when to turn the conversation over to a coworker or manager, when a customer needs to be asked to leave, or even just when you need to take a pause to reassess the situation.

If you’re unsure, it may be worth having a conversation with your manager to determine where boundaries can be established (and if you’re a manager, check out our blog on ways to help support your customer service reps).

Remember that threats, even if verbal and/or over the phone are never ok, and you can end the interaction if you feel unsafe.

Escalate When Needed

Knowing when to turn the interaction over to a supervisor can help make a situation better for both you and the customer. Sometimes the customer will specifically ask for a manager, but sometimes they will continue an angry interaction with you. In some situations, a customer can be calmed down just by speaking to another or more senior person.

As with establishing personal boundaries, you can always ask your manager to work with you to determine what situations are best to bring them in for.

Remember: It Isn’t Personal

At the end of the day, most customer frustrations are caused by things that are out of your immediate control. Although sometimes emotional and tense interactions can make you feel at fault, upset, or down, it is important to remember that as a customer service representative, you can only do as much as your job allows.

Take a deep breath and think of the times you have been able to provide exceptional service and make someone’s day better.

Call Center Resources

Customer service can be an extremely rewarding career, but the anxiety associated with working with abusive or angry customers can turn people away. Knowing how to keep yourself calm, collected, and safe when interacting with angry customers can help alleviate this stress and help you stay your best for the majority of customers you will experience that are kind and polite.

As the leader in call center services in North America, AnswerNet provides resources for employees, managers, and other industry professionals on call center and customer services. Check out our blogs for information on marketing, management, services, and more.