9 Types of Call Center Customers (and How to Deal With Them)

Call Center | 6 minute read

Call center agents deal with dozens of customers each day, each with a unique problem to solve. As the face of your business, they’re the ones who best understand the wants and needs of your consumer base.

As a manager, it’s in your best interest to understand the types of individuals your team deals with on a daily basis. This allows you to train your agents to provide the best customer experience possible, no matter what challenges come their way.

We’ve put together some common customer personas that may sound familiar to you and your team, along with some tips on how to best support them!

TIP:
Experienced call center agents know how to ‘read the room’ as soon as they connect with a customer. Having the ability to adjust your approach can make all the difference when creating a positive customer experience!

The Negative Customer

The negative customer is not a happy camper, and they want you to know it. They may not necessarily raise their voice — rather, they opt for passive-aggressive comments, targeting any pleasantries and shutting them down. They have likely had an unpleasant experience and are upset they have to contact the business in the first place.

Here’s how to deal with the negative customer:

  • Empathize with them. Even if they don’t seem to believe you, keep doing it — consistency in behavior speaks volumes on its own.
  • Keep the conversation constructive and focus on solving their problem(s).
  • Don’t make sarcastic responses. Stay poised and resist the urge to bring the conversation to their level.

The Positive Customer

Unlike the negative customer, the positive customer enters the conversation with a cheery disposition. They are, of course, much easier to work with and make for a pleasant experience. They may even provide positive feedback about your business!

Here’s how to deal with the positive customer:

  • Always thank them for the positive feedback. 
  • Consider creating a process so agents can document this feedback for future use.
  • Don’t assume they’re your friend. Remain professional and pleasant while maintaining control of the conversation.

The Confused Customer

This customer is woefully unprepared for the support call. They don’t know their order number, they don’t understand the service they purchased, and they simply don’t have the answers the agent needs to solve their problem. They desperately need a life-line, and they’re turning to your business to fix everything.

Here’s how to deal with the confused customer:

  • Always ask clear and concise questions. 
  • Guide them through the conversation and ensure they understand what is happening at each step.
  • Don’t make them feel bad. Assure them that you are happy to help and that there are many customers who have had similar issues.

The Know-it-All Customer

The only thing worse than a customer who doesn’t know anything is a customer who thinks they know everything. This individual will correct you on details, even if their information is wrong! They are confident they know your business better than you, and may even toss the “I’ve been a customer for X years” line around to back up their claim. 

Here’s how to deal with the know-it-all customer:

  • Be kind but firm. You are the knowledge expert and you need to retain that position.
  • Be tactful when correcting them. Follow “negative” messages with positive or constructive messages.
  • Don’t correct them outright if their information is wrong. If something sounds off, ask them where they got that information and do a fact check instead of brushing them off.

The Talkative Customer

Call center agents are often evaluated based on the amount of time spent solving a ticket. But sometimes, they’ll get a customer who has all the time in the world and their entire life story to share. These conversations tend to diverge from the issue at hand and can complicate the process for the agent. 

Here’s how to deal with the talkative customer:

  • Smile and react positively to their stories – customers can hear facial expressions even over the phone! 
  • If they go off-topic, gently steer the conversation back to the issue at hand. (This may happen more than once!)
  • Don’t cut them off or rush them along. Take the time to converse with them so they feel listened to, but remember to tie everything back to the purpose of the call!

The One-Liner Customer

On the flip side, customers who under-communicate pose their own unique set of challenges. They may be soft-spoken generally, or perhaps they may be struggling with a language barrier. No matter the reason, it will be up to the agent to draw the information they require from these individuals in order to find a solution.

Here’s how to deal with the one-liner customer:

  • Use closed-ended questions. For example, questions that can be answered with yes or no.
  • If they don’t understand you, rephrase it in a different way — as many times as you have to!
  • Don’t interrogate the customer, even if they’re not being particularly helpful. Remember, you’re there to support and guide them through the process!

The Angry Customer

Ah, the dreaded angry customer. These customers connect with your agents feeling wronged and seeking vengeance. They want their problem resolved, but they’re often fixated on one solution and scoff at alternative options. They may even try to overpower your agents using intimidation tactics such as shouting or threats. 

Here’s how to deal with the angry customer:

  • Let them vent, shout, and complain. Eventually, they’ll need to pause to take a breath — this is where the agent can retake control of the conversation. 
  • Always steer the conversation back to the issue at hand — don’t indulge any grievances that aren’t related to the reason they called in the first place.
  • Don’t lose your cool, no matter how hot-tempered the customer gets. Patience is the key to dealing with the most challenging individuals.

The Laid-Back Customer

This customer has a go-with-the-flow type of attitude. They’ve brought forth an issue, and they are perfectly happy to follow your agent’s expertise and guidance without question. They do not question anything and take all information provided at face value.

Here’s how to deal with the laid-back customer:

  • Match the customer’s energy and pace – this will help them settle into the conversation and develop trust as you solve their issue. 
  • Be sure to check in and ensure that they understand what you are doing. This helps them feel engaged in the process.
  • Don’t cut corners – it might be tempting to do so without the customer holding you directly accountable, but it’s better to do so than to receive a complaint down the line!

The Controlling Customer

The controlling customer wants to ensure that by the time they finish the call, they’ve received exceptional service in the manner they deem acceptable. For the agent, this will involve dealing with tactics commonly seen from micromanagers, as these customers tend to dominate the conversation and nitpick at irrelevant things. 

Here’s how to deal with the controlling customer:

  • Validate their perspective while maintaining control of the situation.
  • Be firm but polite. Agents should not let customers push them around!
  • No second-guessing. Agents must be confident in their knowledge base at all times and demonstrate this through their presence on the call.
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