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Holiday Client Service Tips: 5 Ways to Deal with a Scrooge


‘Tis the season for holiday cheer! But of course, with fun spirit the season brings, there’s always going to be those who are the opposite of joy and merriment. We’ve all met at least one client that’s well … a little “rough around the edges” and we find ourselves in a bit of a tense situation.

At OptiCall, we train our staff to be able to handle all types of callers – scrooges, grinches, and pretty much anyone that deserves a lump of coal. So, when it comes to dealing with someone who is frustrated or even angry, we follow 5 key strategies to ensure we resolve issues as quickly and effectively as possible.

Here’s how you can turn naughty into nice:


1. Keep Your Cool

It’s easy to allow the emotions of the caller to frustrate or annoy you. But if you feel a situation getting a little tense, it’s important to do your best to stay calm and collected. If they cut you off in the conversation, raise their voice, or make a sarcastic comment, take a deep breath or two before responding. Focus on keeping your voice and tone balanced.


2. Make Empathy the Priority

Situations typically escalate when the customer doesn’t feel understood, or they feel like they’ve had to repeat their situation multiple times. Even if they may be wrong, always listen first and avoid interrupting them. Acknowledge their feelings and try to identify with where they are coming from. Then, assure them that you’ll do your best to resolve the issue.


3. Assume Others Can Hear You

Part of OptiCall’s First Contact program is to record calls to ensure quality and determine performance. While not every practice records phone calls, other people may overhear your conversations – including patients in the waiting room. Furthermore, a disgruntled customer could tell others about their experience or even write a poor review. A survey showed 95% of respondents who have had a bad experience said they told someone about it, compared to 87% who shared a good experience. As such, always respond with care and caution in the heat of the moment. You don’t want to later regret how you reacted.


4. Know When to Involve Management

Sometimes a situation can escalate too long before management steps in. By the time a caller demands to speak to a manager, things have already gone too far.

It’s important for phone staff to be trained to handle callers to a point, but to quickly involve someone more senior before things get too heated. As soon as the caller becomes rude or raises their tone, a customer service member should be ready to say something like:

“I can sense your frustration about this. I’ll get my manager to speak with you so we can resolve this issue.”

It goes without saying while staff should be properly trained to handle difficult situations, abuse by a customer should never be tolerated.


5. Take a Minute

While it’s important to not take a negative call personally, that can be hard to do. Once a tough situation has been resolved, take a mental break by stepping away from your desk or getting some fresh air. Give yourself credit for maintaining your cool or turning a negative situation into a positive.

It may also be necessary for managers to debrief the situation with employees to provide feedback on what went well and what could be done differently next time. Managers should be sure to acknowledge and recognize employees who handle themselves well in a contentious situation.


Being in a client-facing role isn’t always easy…

We work with different personalities every day and all year round. While most clients are pretty warm and jolly, it’s critical for practice managers to ensure their employees are not only trained on technical expertise, but what to do if a Grinch comes their way.

On behalf of all of us at OptiCall, Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year!