Customer complaints handling in the call center

Expert Don Peppers suggests three books call center managers can use to train agents on customer complaints handling in the call center.

What is the best way for a call center agent to handle a customer who is frustrated – someone who is being difficult and using foul language? I'd like to advise my agents on how to handle these calls without getting frustrated themselves. Ideally they'd be able to save the call and still create value for the company.
When you set up a call center, it's important to train your call center agents, and a vital part of that training should always be complaint handling – because no matter what the "mission" of the call center, complaints can come in anywhere, at any time.

There are books you can buy on complaint handling. The comprehensive book Complaint Management: The Heart of CRM, by Bernd Stauss and Wolfgang Seidel is a great reference guide for managers attempting to get at the issue of how to handle complaints efficiently, while gleaning the right feedback from them at the same time. Another, more accessible book is A Complaint Is a Gift, by Janelle Barlow and Claus Moller. You could actually give this one to your front-line personnel, and ask them to read for themselves how to deal with complaining customers. Even more accessible is a pamphlet-like book entitled Handling Complaints, by Angelena Boden, part of the "Management Pocketbooks" series. Each of these are available on Amazon, I just checked.

Much too much for us to cover in this forum, but trust me – any of these books will help you more than you can imagine!

Hear more in Creating Customer Value, a monthly podcast series with Peppers and Rogers.

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