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Call centre complaints handling


Is anyone able to provide information or suggestions on how to train call centre operatives for complaint handling?
Michelle Hart

10 Responses

  1. Assertive, aggressive, submissive
    First of all point out that complaints are not a bad thing and that they actually benefit a company ‘76% of customers say that the speed and manner in which their complaint was handled increased their loyalty to that business’. Point out/ask the group to come up with the benefits to the company. Ask the group to tell you about a time that they DIDN’T complain and why. Highlight the reason’s. Then ask about a time that they DID complain and the complaint was dealt with effectively. Point out that to handle a complaint effectively they need to be assertive. Run through examples of assertive, Aggressive and submissive behaviours. Support this with the following exercise…..ask group to stand up, you will shout out combinations of numbers and they must form groups of people corresponding to the numbers called (3 groups of 5, a 7 and an 8 etc). At first call out numbers that include all members of the group, then start to call out numbers that mean that one person is left out, until only one person is left. Ask group to consider what happened. Were assertive, submissive and aggressive behaviours displayed. Also, point out a couple of tips for dealing with complaints….if the customer is rambling, use his/her name to stop them (think about if someone calls your name in the street, you always stop and look round). Also, if you can’t do something, use the broken record technique (kepp saying no, but in a different way. EG. We can’t amend that policy, that policy can’t be amended, it is not possible with that type of policy. They will eventually get the message). Also, don’t instantly apologise, unless you know that you are at fault, instead, apologise for how the customer feels. As soon as you apologise for the problem, you are admitting fault. Finally, run some roleplays to encompass all the above techniques.

    Hope this helps!! – Vanessa.

  2. Telesales complaints
    Hi Michelle

    I have been training call centre staff for a while now. I would echo Vanessa’s points with one or two extras.
    Firstly, I have found that customers respond better to staff who use positive language. ie. avoid the use of I/you/the company can’t and emphasise what CAN be done for the customer. I have a fair few examples of negative language that advisors tend to use and the positive equivalents.
    Secondly I feel that if advisors have an easy control method that helps a great deal. I have found that a communication circle of Acknowledge – Inform – ? -Listen works very well in controlling dialogue and once the customer’s “Emotion” has subsided it works very well in dealing with complaints.
    Give me a call if you want to talk it through on 07967-044479.

    Kind regards

    Mark Outhwaite
    ([email protected])

  3. call centre complaints
    There are lots of off the shelf packages and role plays but having been involved in call centre staff training I think some of the most useful training I provided was simply to increase staff awareness by a combination of sessions. I actually found that ‘ Total Quality Management ‘ by John Oakland ( a somewhat older book now) and some of the ‘Quality ‘ open learning material at the local resource centre of the Training & Enterprise Council helped me deliver material highly relevant. Managers need a challenge,including a wake up call therefore I think you would find it very useful to structure the training by combining it with what typically most organisations spout about – QUALITY – you will find lots of material, stimulating and refreshing and this puts you in the customers shoe’s!

    Need to discuss anything further – email me and I’ll call you

  4. call centre complaints
    It can sometimes depend on the type of complaint but I would echo Mark’s comments and stress the importance of “soft” skills like listening to the caller, empathising with them and treating them with respect. Having dealt with complaints for a number of years, I don’t think there’s any great trick to it – it’s all about dealing with callers as people. If you can get your teams to do that, you’re a long way toward being able to handle most complaints.

  5. We can help with complaint handling
    Aptus specialise in the development of call centre agent training, from Customer Service, Tele-sales and Arrears to Effective Customer Correspondance, Effective Coaching, Leadership & management Skills training. Our telephone skills training for call centre agents includes modules covering complaint handling – I have an information pack which I could send you if you want to e-mail your address!

  6. Why not try a Web based training solution.
    We have a number of Web delivered, comprehensive, Self-Directed, training courses that may be exactly what you are looking for. Three courses in particular would assist you. ‘Turning Difficult Callers into Delighted Customers’, ‘Managing Telephone Technology’ and ‘ Handling Calls with Confidence and Professionalism’. We have other courses covering Call Centre specific requirements including: ‘ Call Centre Communication Skills’, Call Centre Customer Service’, ‘Call Centre Telephone Sales’ and ‘Call Centre Industry Overview’. Contact me for more information.

    Hi Michelle

    I agree with the other comments about listening – particularly enabling the customer to let off steam, and empathising (not necessarily agreeing ) with the customer. Also explain the difference between empathy and sympathy, and the impact of each. There are a few practical communication models that demonstrate this well and can help in handling/diffusing difficult situations.

    Remeber that customers complain about one of 3 things; procedures, products or people (ie service) This is useful during the ‘identify’ stage, as it helps to focus exactly what the customer is complaining about, and therefore what the operator is able to do. Even if they are not able to do what the caller wants, there are positive ways of saying or phrasing this this (see Mark’s comments. In addition, training on tone of voice is a help.

    Finally make sure that the Operators are aware of the ‘what if’ scenario should they not be able to turn the call around. Ie, what is the escalation procedure? In what circumstances can they terminate a call? Often this is not handled consistently across a call centre, resulting in obvious service issues.

    I have condensed many hours of training into a few nuggets of info. Please contact me if you would like any more depth.

    ([email protected])

  8. Customer Complaints – 5 stage model
    Here’s a quick model (of mine) for you to use:
    1.Listen patiently. This includes using the language of the caller, so if they say they are angry, repeat back, I can hear you are angry, so that they recognise they have been heard.

    2. Apologise. “I’m sorry you have had such an unfortunate experience of our service,” or something appropriate (there are legal implications if the call centre operator acknowledges liability, so you must ensure everyone is clear on where they stand!)

    3. Reach Agreement about what the problem is. The call centre operative asks to repeat back to the caller what they have understood the problem is. This promotes clarity and understanding, and reassures the customer (providing your employee got it right) that you know what they are talking about.

    4. Take Action. Again, this will depend on your escalation procedures and the level of “empowerment” an employee has to act upon your behalf. The caller should also be informed of what is going to happen next.

    5. Follow Up. Ensure that the action is taken, and if it is out of the operative’s control, they must ensure that the solution is passed to a person who can remedy the situation, and will do so in a timely fashion.

    You can teach your operatives to use finger codes (such as the thumb for No. 1, index for No. 2, middle for No. 3, ring for No. 4, and pinky for No. 5.). In this order, the strength of each finger also suggests how much time should be allowed for this action to occur!

  9. Addendum
    Michelle, as I sent that email, I realised that the process of handling a complaint is not the same as handling one’s own emotional response to said complaint. Some people do become too emotionally involved to be able to deal empathically with the situation. As a customer service professional, one thing I am perhaps too good at is pushing someone else’s buttons, and I have rattled more than my fair share of people on the other end of the phone.

    You may need, therefore, to have another look at exactly what you are asking the call centre operatives to handle, and determine if our previous comments are really what you need.

  10. Here is a detailed book summary that should help

    I have been very active around complaints management and service recovery in the past year or three.

    Through my research I have gained a lot of learning, and some very practical models that should be of value.

    For instance, if you would like a summary of an excellent book on this crucial subject just let me know. The book is ‘A complaint is a gift’ – and the summary is not ‘just’ a review, I always substantially summarise any book I read in order to retain the most useful lists, learning points and ideas.

    I will be happy to email it to you.

    All the best.

    Andrew Gibbons


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