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How to Help Your Agents Manage Conflict in the Call Center

Whether they're using the phone, chat, email, or even social media, your call center agents are constantly interacting with customers. Because they are the face of your brand for so many of your customers, it’s important to make sure your agents are trained to effectively communicate with callers - especially frustrated ones.

And while you already know that the way that your call center handles frustrated callers has a direct impact on customer satisfaction, many call center managers don't realize that high levels of conflict can be detrimental for their agents as well.  No matter which way you choose to look at it, learning to manage conflict in the call center should be a key step in your training program.

From our experience with cloud contact centers around the world, here are some of our top strategies for conflict resolution in the call center:

Have a script prepared for conflict resolution.

Your call center probably has a script that agents are expected follow for standard phone calls, but do your agents know what to do when they're faced with an angry or frustrated customer?  Whether or not you have an official script for these situations, you'll want to make sure your agents are attentive to the customer's needs and apologetic for the situation.

Having a few go-to phrases or bullet points prepared for these situations can help ensure that even though they’re frustrated, your callers have a good customer service experience.

A few sample phrases for your script:

“I’m apologize for the inconvenience."
“I am glad to assist you."
“I’m sorry to hear that."

Use the right tone of voice for the situation.

Good communication depends on a number of factors. But according to a study conducted by Albert Mehrabian in 1967, three elements reign supreme:

  • The words that you use (or in the case of a call center, your script)
  • The tone of voice that you use
  • Your body language

After conducting his research, Mehrabian came to the conclusion that the words you use only account for 7% of good communication, while the tone of voice you use comes in at 38%, and body language accounts for 55%.

Although most contact center situations don't involve face-to-face interactions, tone of voice is an essential element of a call center agent's ability to manage and resolve conflict.  Virtual call center software tools like live monitoring, call recording, and even quality assurance metrics can help you actively coach your agents on the right tone of voice to use with frustrated customers.

Consider role-playing potential customer interactions.

Another helpful tip for successfully handling conflict in the call center is to set up role-playing situations.  In these situations, you and your team can practice how you’d interact with a frustrated customer.  Each member of your team can take turns in these scenarios while others watch and pick up tips on how to interact with these customers.

To make the situation more realistic for your agents, you can craft your dialogue using real life examples of frustrated customers gathered from call recordings.

Utilize call monitoring and call whisper.

As a call center manager, tools like call monitoring and call whisper can give you a first-hand look at how your agents are actually doing during a conflictive situation.  Frequently listen to these types of calls so you can identify areas for improvement and help improve your training procedures.  You can even use recordings of past calls as part of your training regimen, showing examples of good and bad interactions.

The agents in your call center are the face of your company; after all, they’re the ones interacting with your customers on a daily basis. Because of this, it’s essential to implement the tips above to make sure they’re prepared for any situation that may occur during their customer service interactions.

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