The unfortunate truth is not every customer who calls your business is going to be happy. In fact, some of them can be both rude and angry. It is vital for call center agents to learn how to handle rude and angry customers. The advice your mother gave you about treating others who you want to be treated can be applied to this situation.
Step One: Remain Calm
This is the most obvious first step when a customer uses a sharp tone with you. Failure to do so will result in the situation escalating. Even if the customer was rude first, it is a good business practice to believe the customer is always right. Unfortunately, you will likely get in trouble with management regardless of "who started it".
One important thing to remember is that the customer is mad at the company as a whole – not you. Chances are pretty good there is a policy, product, or service the customer is upset with. Your role is to help the customer resolve the issue. Even if it feels like the customer is attacking you, you have to try not to take it personally.
If you feel as though you are losing your composure or need a minute to calm down, there is nothing wrong with putting the customer on hold. Just make sure you tell the customer you need to put him or her on hold for a moment to look into the issue. This will give you and the customer both a little time to cool off. Just keep in mind, putting the customer on hold may annoy him or her further. This doesn't mean you shouldn't use this technique to calm down. It just means you should be aware of the possibility that the customer will be angrier when you get back on the phone.
Step Two: Empathy is Helpful
In addition to resolving the issue, the customer wants to know there is someone listening. Telling the customer that you are sorry and will do everything you can to fix the problem goes along way. Even though you did not cause the problem, you can apologize on behalf of the company for making a mistake and/or causing the customer this grief.
In most cases, this situation will end just fine. You will resolve the issue and the customer will thank you for fixing the problem. If the situation is out of your realm of experience, you can apologize to the customer, again, for the trouble and redirect him or her to a department that can fix the issue. If you're interested in a call center service so you won't have to deal with issues like this on your own, visit A-1 Message Center.