5 Tips for Handling Irate Customers in the Telecom Industry

Experiencing irate customers in your contact center? Read on to discover the 5 tips for handling irate customers in your contact center. 


Take a moment and ask yourself the following question: What would a telecom agent do if I cancelled my landline today?

If you said, “They would have offered me a huge discount to retain myself as a customer,” then you are absolutely correct!

Let me describe to you a situation that I had personally experienced on a call with my internet and landline provider: I had been a loyal landline, mobile phone, and internet customer. During my ten years as a customer, they never offered a discount on my bill. They never did a “Loyalty call” to thank me for my business. They did not proactively ensure I was on the right rate plan. Instead, they waited until I cancelled to mention discounts.

I was open to staying. However, the telecom agent never probed for needs. They did not ask about using a landline for emergency calls. Or, removing long distance and voice mail plans to reduce costs. With that in place, I might have kept my landline for emergency calls or if my mobile phone battery died. However, the agent did not ask about my needs. They threw discounts at me rather than addressing the core issue of me wanting to cut down on my monthly bill.

There are lessons to be learned from this experience. Some of those lessons involve marketing. However, here is what the contact center could have done differently:

  1. Probe for needs. Find out WHY your customer is cancelling. Discover how your customer’s needs have changed. Ask if they could still benefit from part of your service. Ask if modifying features would increase the price/value ratio. In my case, I was open to keeping my landline with a reduced number of features. They could have retained a customer and generated incremental revenue. However, this Agent did not attempt to understand my needs.
  2. Compete on value, not price. This Retention Agent immediately went into, “Let’s make a deal” mode. He mentioned promotional offers. However, most of those promotions were for services I did not have or want. Offering promotions for internet TV or faster internet speed, only works if your customer values those items. I did not.
  3. Do “warm transfers.” When someone is cancelling, the last thing they want to do is repeat their account information when they get transferred to the retention team.
  4. Be proactive:  Reach out and right size customers. I know the counter argument is, “Leave well enough alone.” However, waiting until customers have decided to cancel, makes retention more difficult. Instead, proactively contact customers and probe to ensure they are on the correct rate plan. As a bonus, you can also look for opportunities to upsell during these calls.
  5. Have excellent Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Knowledge Base systems. Leverage this technology to quickly help Agents find customer information and marketing options. Having your customer on hold for five minutes to find information does not instill confidence. Better yet, make this software cloud based. That provides your contact center with more scheduling flexibility using remote Agents. So, you can answer irate calls faster and with less aggravation for your customers.

Use these 5 tips today to help your telecom company provide a better customer experience and retain more customers.

Mike Aoki is the President of Reflective Keynotes Inc. (www.reflectivekeynotes.com), a training company that helps contact centers improve their sales and customer retention results. A contact center expert, Mike was chosen by ICMI.com as one of the “Top 50 Customer Service Thought Leaders on Twitter” for the past five years. He also received the GTACC Award for social media influence, and the Canadian Institute of Management’s Quality Service Award for leadership. He is also a co-author of the Amazon #1 bestselling leadership book, “Called to Action.”