Call termination

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Operations Manager

West Bromwich Building Society

I hope that you lot can help me out with something that seems to be changing in our Contact Centre.

We have a policy that allows agents to terminate calls if the customer swears but we are seeing a rise in bullying through intimidation/threats and the type of language towards our staff.

It's been suggested that we should introduce a policy where we can terminate these calls as staff shouldn't have to be spoken to in this way.

Does anybody have any experience with this?

CSI Coordinator

Enterprise Rent A Car


Without sounding condescending this kind of behaviour normally stems from customers that beleive they have had a bad experaince of one kind or another that then manifests itself on to your agents.

As such it may be worth looking at a preventative measure or the main cause of the customer frustration as well as aiding your agents to deal with the agressive interaction they are receiving.

Aggressive behavior should never be tolerated towards or received from your agents so I would see no problem with in the mean time telling the agents that if the conversation starts to become unproductive and abusive to end the call.

Hope that helps.

Currently seeking a job

There is a deeper issue, that is leading to rise in abusive callers. It could be a possible down time or no time lines being provided. Absolutely, there must not be any tolerance toward an agent/customer who gets abusive.However, there must be a standard policy so as to also avoid call drops where in the agent gives a positive warning to the customer with select verbiages and in spite of the same if the customer doesnt allow the agent to assist/is abusive, the agent can inform the customer he will need to disconnect

Process Manager

ATH InTouch

In my experience, customers tend to become abusive or threatening if and when they feel that no one is listening to them, or simply if the agent's intellect is not up to par. This really frustrates callers and to manage this, agents simply need to listen. I'm sure there's a call flow process in every call center, as Managers, we need to ensure that our agents follow the call structure i.e welcome => obtain issue => offer solution => offer alternative => offer further assistance => cross-sell/upsell at the right opportunity => farewell. If this is followed correctly, customers will not see the need to call back and there is no frustration. Also, agents should not attempt to talk customers through problems they cannot solve, if you don't know what to do, pass it to someone who does - customers will appreciate this. However, i agree that there are some customers that do not accept 'NO' nor appreciate straight-forward service and will start being abusive or threatening when they don't get their way. I agree that their calls should be terminated, however, at least with a warning issued earlier in the call.



'Treat people as you would lke to be treat yourself' is an adage that I have tried to live by and instilled into my agents in our predominantly B2B telemarketing/CallCentre business for 8 years. In that time I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of bullying/bad language complaints from my agents.

Having said that we were operating in the B2B sector and B2C can be a more challenging sector, however I agree with Sitiveni that customer frustration is usually the factor and perhaps something has changed in your call centre - longer queuing time, less agents, reduction in agent training, agents not listening, script/call flow change, or staff changes (management & agents)- that needs to be taken into account and modified. Have you actually called your own centre from an unknown phone as a customer to see how calls are handled?

Ultimately bullying or abuse should not be tolerated and agents should give the customer a warning to that effect as soon as it starts; if it still continues then the agent should calmly tell the customer that the call is being terminated.




Head of IT and Telecoms

An abusive customer is an opportunity for some rather frank feedback. Rather than cut them off I would have the agent say ...

'Sir, I can see you're quite upset so I'd like to pass you over to one of our senior complaints managers who will look into this for you and see what we can do to put this right'

Passing the call to an agent trained in exception handling can often lead to some interesting insights, customer retention and can even avoid costly legal action in some cases.

I remember one abusive screamer who, it eventually turned out, had found his private financial details regarding a juicy mortgage claim had been revealed in error to his wife - whom he was currently divorcing. He worked for an FSA/ICO regulated firm of accountants in London and was not only livid but downright litigatious.

If the agent had have hung up we no doubt would have had a very costly damages case on our hands. As it happens he was placated.

The moral? Never let a frontliner hang up on a screamer! At the very least it should escalate immediately to a TM before it gets out of control, and preferably to senior staff with a good understanding of exceptions handling.


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