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Soft Skills and Hard Customers: How to Handle Difficult Calls

Soft skills is a hot term these days. More and more companies are making great customer experience a priority mission, so much so that they are taking great lengths to prove just how important customers are to their success. A great customer experience starts from the moment the customer considers the product or service as a possible purchase. If they do make the purchase, the company wants the customer to be thrilled with the product performance. What if the customer isn’t happy with the product? What if, worst-case scenario, the customer is upset, even angry about their experience with the product? That’s when you come in. You are a crusader for the customer experience, a super hero on the front lines of customer satisfaction! As a super hero representative, you are attune to the customer’s feelings, and are first on the scene to solve the issue.

Just how, as a superhero day in and day out, can you continue handling difficult customer calls? This is where your soft skills come in to play.  Let’s break it down by scenario…


The customer calls in with a hot, sarcastic, even angry attitude because the shoes she ordered for her business trip are not only the wrong color but the wrong size. You get comments like “How could this happen?” or “Aren’t computers smarter than people?” or worse “I’m inclined to never shop here again!” It would be easy to develop a defensive attitude when someone starts making accusations and negative comments. But you’re a pro: you use your own positive attitude and do your best to expect the best from this situation. You use affirmative language, you let the customer know how upsetting that must be, and you are going to do everything you can to help her get the right pair of shoes in time for her trip. Your attitude is not just a reflection of you, but of that moment, and then of the brand identity of your company. Your superhero skills just calmed an angry customer; maybe even helped her feel relieved she made the call to complain in the first place!


You retrieve a call from a customer who is having a tough time communicating his problem. He’s trying to download a document from your website and is having trouble finding it on his computer. Getting him to tell you the steps he took is difficult and almost impossible, and you can hear the frustration in the customer’s voice. In order for the customer to hear what you need, your communication skills must be clear and concise. Ask him what you need by taking the time to express yourself clearly so he understands you. Then take the time to listen and let him know when you need to take a step back. Confirm what information you know. Your superhero communication skills will give the customer confidence and relief!


Your customer has been trying over and over again to activate his account. He has called in twice and received instructions. He said he’s about to throw his computer out the window, but decided to call in one more time so he could utilize the great information from your company that goes with having an account. What soft skill do you pull from your superhero tool belt first? Empathy. He already called three times. That takes patience on his part. He didn’t throw away his computer after numerous attempts to access your company’s content. That takes perseverance. Give your customer a pat on the back for the many attempts he’s taken and tell him you can identify with the frustration. No need to apologize since it isn’t your fault – just help him get where he need to be with that great attitude and concise communication skills you know how to use. The frustrated customer will be grateful you also had the patience and perseverance to help him succeed. It’s a win-win!

Soft skills are more and more becoming a necessity for any person in any workplace. And they’re not exactly something you can put on a resume or a personal bio. You earn credibility with your soft skills, and trust, reliability, and respect. Keep up the hard work because soft skills will get you to superhero success!