Defusing difficult or angry customers calmly and assertively benefits the company, the customer, and the service representative. Managing any difficult situation requires clear communication and intention. You improve with practice. And the rewards, both in terms of personal comfort and bottom line profit, are great. The key lies in your ability to manage yourself so that you can manage and support the customer.
1) Take charge of you.
Remember to breathe, smile, and connect with your higher motives. You cannot change the customer's reactions, but you can manage your response to them.
2) Focus on the bigger picture
Instead of getting stuck on the issue, ask yourself: What's really important here? Communicate as one human being to another.
Allow the customer to complete his thoughts and don't interrupt. Understand that the customer's reaction is not about you. Let the verbal attacks go by. Listen for what lies behind the words. Be curious instead of certain.
Put yourself in the customer's shoes. You have probably been there at some point. Remember what it feels like. Say something like: "I can see how you'd feel this way," or "That sounds rough. I'm sorry that happened."
5) Clarify and summarize...
... as in, "Let me repeat what you said to make sure I understand." Make sure you do understand.
6) Ask honest, open questions...
....that you don't know the answer to. Try to find out exactly what the problem is and what the customer expects of you and your company.
7) Advocate for your company
Agree where you can, and build on that. Tell the customer what you can do, and what you cannot (and why).
By centering yourself periodically, listening, and acknowledging the customer's point of view, you will have a positive effect on the situation, and you will take action in line with your company's best intentions. You will also set up favorable conditions for communicating what your company can and cannot do.