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How to Handle Stressful Situations in Customer Service

Expect stressful situations to happen when working in customer service. Your attitude while interacting with an upset customer goes a long way in calming the customer down. According to a customer service training manual used at Boise State University, learning to handle these situations results in a positive outcome for both you and your customer.

Coping with stressful customer situations effectively takes a little practice. Analyze each customer service situation you face and apply lessons learned the next time you encounter an upset customer.


5 Steps to Handle Stressful Situations in Customer Service

Stressful Situations in Customer Service

1. Stay calm.

When a customer is upset or demanding, you may instinctively become upset. Remember that the customer is not likely angry at you personally, he is angry at your company or service. Remaining calm is the first step when handling an angry or difficult customer. Failure to stay calm can cause an already tense situation to escalate.


2. Listen to the customer.

When people are angry, they often just want someone to listen to their complaint. Try not to interrupt the customer. Maintain eye contact with the customer to show her you are engaged in what she is saying and seriously considering her complaints. Take notes on the customer’s issue if your interaction takes place over the phone.


3. Demonstrate that you understand the customer’s problem.

Repeat your customer’s problem back to him to show that you understand what he is upset about. If you do not feel you fully understand, ask the customer questions. Gain a clear understanding of the customer’s complaint so you can work with him to resolve the issue.


4. Apologize to the customer sincerely.

Whether or not you find the customer’s complaint valid, you must politely and sincerely apologize for the trouble she experienced. Take responsibility for what went wrong and assure the customer that you will work to find a resolution that will satisfy her.


5. Offer a solution for the customer.

Completely satisfying the customer is not always possible, but working closely with the customer to find a solution helps the customer feel that you respect his time and feelings. Suggest alternative solutions if the resolutions your customer wants are not available. Ask the customer what might constitute an acceptable substitution. Work with the customer until the issue is resolved.


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