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Getting a Handle on Challenging Calls


Guest articles > Getting a Handle on Challenging Calls


by: Meryl Rodgers

Challenging calls push the limits of your good nature. They make you dig a little deeper into your inner resources—your willingness to find a solution, your eagerness to be courteous, patient, and understanding. Let’s face it: some of them make you want to SCREAM! But keep in mind that challenging calls, while rarely enjoyable, are important and meaningful for what they teach you and for the sense of satisfaction you get from handling them well.

When it comes to challenging calls, prevention is the best medicine. There are a number of things you can do to make sure that a routine call doesn’t escalate into a challenge. Following are some of them:

  •  Greet the customer courteously and professionally.
  •  Question to uncover exactly what the customer needs.
  •  Listen carefully and confirm your understanding.
  •  Show a sincere willingness to be of assistance.
  •  Be polite, and use good business etiquette.
  •  Use positive language that shows the customer what you can do, not what you can’t do.

Of course, in some cases, the customer is angry or upset from the very beginning of the call. When this happens, or when, despite your best efforts, you’re unable to head off a challenging behavior in the middle of the call, remember that your attitude plays a big role in the ultimate outcome. Many upset customers calm down as soon as they realize their call is being handled by a competent and caring professional. Upset customers want to know you are listening to what they have to say, and are sincerely trying to understand their situation.

Customers expect you to respond seriously to their concerns. When dealing with difficult customers or situations, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  •  Be humble. Even if the customer is wrong or is acting inappropriately, your strategy should be to proceed with humility in what you say and how you say it. This simple measure often puts customers at ease and can quickly change the direction of the call.
  •  Focus on a solution. Put aside the emotions; discern the important details of the situation and focus on what can be done to resolve the issue or problem. In most cases, once you move the focus from problem to solution, the customer will follow your lead.
  •  Remain poised. Regardless of how the customer is acting, the best thing for you to do is to remain poised, calm, and confident. This allows you to focus on the solution and shows the customer you have the situation under control. Take a few deep breaths, concentrate, and maintain a friendly tone of voice. It also helps to smile (even if you don’t really feel like smiling).
  •  Avoid defensiveness. Your job is to serve customers – not to defend yourself against them. If a customer makes a disparaging remark or blames you for the problem, don’t react defensively or take it personally. Stick to the facts and carry on with finding a solution.


Impact Learning Systems’ training programs teach valuable skills for handling difficult customers and for bouncing back from challenging calls. To find out more, call Impact Learning Systems today at 800-545-9003 or visit our Web site at

Contributor: Meryl Rodgers

Published here on: 01-Apr-12

Classification: Business


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