It's not uncommon for staff to have to handle ADDITIONAL customer anger about problems and frustrations they experience trying to get in touch with a company. Phone trees and IVR's often get in the way of customer communication. So, what do you do when a customer is not only frustrated with an issue, but is now ten times more frustrated at being put on hold, shuffled from on place to another, and is now furious?
Obviously the first thing to do is apologize for the frustration, and allow the person to vent. The latter is hard, because YOU are also frustrated at having to deal with customer angry about something beyond your control.
The next part of the process involves a techique I teach in seminars, and outlined in my books on difficult customers.
Moving Customer To The Present and "The Now"
To help the customer you need to move them away from their past experience (even it's recent -- i.e. the last ten minutes on hold, and back to the present. It's a relatively easy process once you know how.
Use phrases like the following that combine empathy with a focus on NOW:
"It's really frustrating to have to deal with all these phone trees. But you've got me NOW, and I'm going to do everything I can to solve your problem. Can I ask you a few questions?"
"Let me see what I can do right now to help you, so you don't have to call back and go through this again."
"If I can't solve this right now, I promise you that I will call YOU back, so you don't have to go through the phone tree all over again."
Remember to use voice emphasis on the "right now" part. Come across as powerful and confident, reassure, and if the customer continues to focus on the past bad experience, try the broken record technique (as explained in my books), until you get the customer responding to you. That's part of the CARP model -- get and keep control over the conversation so you can help.