For those of us who have suffered the misfortune of working in this field we are certain that the clients we encounter are far from uniformly right. Customers can be rude, unseasonable and downright trying but when faced with a one who insists on working your last nerve a little preparedness goes a long way towards helping you to remain calm and composed.
The most important skill for CSRs is the ability to empathize. While policy may prevent a CSR from accepting any culpability there are ways of conveying similar sentiments without exposing ones employer to liability such as "I am sorry to hear that" or " That's really unfortunate" and most importantly "How can I be of assistance?" Experience will help you discern whether the issue is genuine or contrived but this process should take place internally without allowing skepticism or anger to seep into the interaction.
If someone becomes irate or raises their voice as the professional you should strive to do the opposite. By choosing not to respond in kind, speaking slowly, calmly and respectfully you are influencing the tone of the conversation. It takes two active participants to for an argument to take place and if the customer insists on shouting or using obscene or threatening language it is reasonable to suggest that the conversation not continue in that manner and require that they compose themselves. If not security is always an option.
When there is doubt as to how you should proceed there is no shame in seeking the advice of a supervisor. By asking for permission to consult with a higher up on the situation you give the impression that you are taking the matter seriously, it puts some much needed distance between the customer and yourself and it can aide with the speedy resolution of the presenting problem.
Persons who work with the public should have a detailed but easy to follow self care plan. CSRs are by no means a homogeneous group and as such possess varying degrees patience and anger management skills. By taking steps to maintain a sense of well being throughout the day one is less likely to loose their cool when faced with a less than pleasant potential client.
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