Live Virtual Receptionists: What Happens When an Angry Customer Calls?
If you are a business owner, especially of a small business with few or no employees so far, it’s likely that you cannot answer every phone call. Furthermore, you may not want to answer every phone call or have time to answer every call.
That’s one big benefit of having a virtual office that has a virtual receptionist, like we offer at Davinci Virtual Office Solutions. We can furnish you someone to answer your phone, politely, professionally, and reliably.
So, you may wonder, what happens when an angry customer calls?
Our employees are trained to use conflict resolution techniques and handle this kind of scenario. This is what the receptionist will do:
1. Remain calm
If the receptionist remains calm, that is a great first step to de-escalate the anger. If the receptionist gets upset, that can escalate the tension.
It may be easier for our receptionist to remain calm than it would be for you, because our receptionist doesn’t have a dog in this fight. Our receptionist doesn’t have his or her future riding on your product, so he or she is an objective, outside person.
The receptionist’s whole job is to de-escalate the conflict.
2. Listen with empathy
If it’s your business, it’s easy to get worked up if you perceive an insult. The receptionist is trained first to listen empathetically. Often, the customer feels like he or she can’t get anyone to listen. So, the receptionist is going to listen.
Conflict resolution experts refer to “AMPP” an acronym that stands for ask, mirror, paraphrase, and prime. (Overton and Lowry, 2013) Put to use, in summary, the receptionist will ask for clarification, mirror or repeat what the angry customer is saying, paraphrase to clarify the main points, and prime, or try to get the angry person to open up if he or she is unclear.
3. Remain professional
While listening, the receptionist will remain, well, professional. He or she is not going to laugh or snicker or mock the caller—which is easy to do if you’re annoyed.
4. Try to determine exactly what the problem is
The receptionist is going to try to figure out why the caller is so upset. The first step in solving a problem is to identify the problem.
5. Try to determine exactly what the caller wants
While identifying the problem, the next step is to determine exactly what the caller wants and what the caller is upset about. Once this problem is identified, then it’s much easier to move toward a resolution, as much as is possible on the phone with a third-party receptionist.
6. Soften the conversation
The receptionist will try to use words like “maybe” and “sometimes” instead of words like “always” and “never”. Words like maybe or sometimes can help lower the tension in the conversation and soften it.
7. Sound kind
Our professional receptionists will always sound just plain nice. A snippy receptionist will make problems worse, not better, and ours are trained better than that.
8. Agree on something
The receptionist will make every effort to find something, anything, to agree on with the angry customer on the phone. Any kind of agreement will help the caller feel like there is some cooperation on the way to a resolution, so our receptionists are trained to try to find something agreeable.
9. Speak about resolution
The receptionist will let the caller know right away, that he or she wants to help resolve the problem. Sometimes, just hearing those few words will help to de-escalate an ugly situation.
10. Have limits
There will likely be times that no matter how well trained the receptionist is, and how well he or she implements the conflict resolution protocols, the person on the other end of the phone will not stop ranting and raving.
Our receptionists are trained that they will not and should not withstand abuse—and neither should you. If after a reasonable period of time, the receptionist cannot de-escalate the situation, the call will be terminated.
There is good evidence that the resolution of conflict is something that animals and people naturally strive for because throughout history, we have needed cooperation to survive. (Aureli and de Waal, 2000) So, if given the right tools, we believe that it’s not difficult for our highly trained receptionists to de-escalate conflict on the phone.
Some conflict is inevitable in any business or office setting (or any other setting like with family or friends). What’s key is the ability to face the conflict with tools to resolve it.
By handling conflict resolution appropriately and professionally, we make you and your business look good. You will appear to have spectacular customer service professionals, and that is another distinct advantage of the virtual office.
So, you not only can have live humans answering the phone instead of every call going to voicemail, but you can have trained professionals who can handle your most miserable angry customers. Bonus!
The good news is that if we’re doing this job, then you don’t have to. You can devote your time to developing your business strategy and following up on new leads and leave the conflict resolution to us.
If you don’t have the time or the desire to be fielding all your phone calls, definitely contact us. We can take care of all of your virtual office needs including receptionists who can handle angry customers will aplomb.
Davinci Meeting Rooms offer beautiful meeting spaces all over the US and in 50 different countries at great prices. If you have any questions about this article or would like to talk to us about booking one of our meetings rooms, please call us toll-free at (877) 453-9516.
Davinci Virtual Office Solutions is a global provider of business addresses and all kinds of office support. If you have any questions about this article or would like to talk to us about any of our virtual office services including office space or meeting rooms, please call us toll-free at (877) 453-3430