When to hang up.

I’ve been seeing a few posts at a few places about when to hang up on a customer.

Not too long ago I was actually hung up on by a company. I made a comment about an email the company sent me being awfully vague (I believe I said “You should probably work on your pre-defined responses.”) and the representative told me to call back when I had calmed down and hung up. I’ve had never been hung up on by a customer service representative before that and there were some other people in the room that heard what I was saying and they agreed I wasn’t rude.

The reason that particular representative hung up on me is probably because she was A) overly sensitive, B) having a bad day, C) not well trained/informed as to when a customer should be hung up on, or most likely, a combination of all three.

Your rules as to when a customer should be hung up on should be crystal clear. There shouldn’t be one bit of uncertainty as to when to hang up on a customer. An example operating procedure would be:

If a customer is cursing:

  • Tell the customer that cursing/using profanity will not help solve their problem and that they should calm down.
  • If the customer continues to curse, say if they curse again, you will have to hang up on them and they can call back once they’ve calmed down.
  • If the customer continues to curse, say “I’m sorry, but you’re going to have call back once you’ve calmed down.” and hang up immediately.
  • Describe the situation in the call log and make a note of it in the customer’s account.

That’s a very effective operating procedure. It’s not a script, but general guidelines as to what the representative should do. That way when the customer calls back an hour later, the next representative can be prepared for what may happen (a rude and angry customer) and if the customer service representative isn’t good with those situations, transfer the call to someone else.

The reasons to hang up on a customer vary from company to company, but here are some other possible reasons:

  • He/she is making constantly personal insults against the representative (e. g. you’re a worthless idiot)
  • He/she is constantly yelling or screaming.
  • He/she is being consistently arrogant and completely refuses to listen to logic (e. g. keeps insisting that he/she is right and that the representative is wrong, regardless of the information being presented)
  • Any physical threats and other extreme things of that nature.

As a manager, ask your front-line employees what reasons should be to hang up on customers. You should be able to get a fairly good list fairly quickly. Once you have the situations, develop an operating procedure for each one. For most instances, the customer should get at least one warning prior to being hung up on. A lot of times, companies will transfer angry customers to a supervisor or manager who will deal with the issue. It really depends on the company and the company’s culture.

Remember, when a customer is angry, be sure to keep the smile suggestions in mind as well.

2 Responses to “When to hang up.”

  1. Service Untitled » Scripts vs. Operating Procedures - customer service and customer service experience blog said:

    Dec 27, 06 at 11:07 am

    […] Here is an example of an operating procedure for dealing with angry, profane customers (first posted here): […]

  2. Service Untitled» Blog Archive » The Angriest Customers said:

    Feb 27, 09 at 12:40 am

    […] the biggest challenge. Most companies don’t tolerate the worst of these customers (they hang up), but what about the customer who is just really angry and isn’t necessarily doing anything […]