How to deal with hard contacts

Believe it or not, you can stay calm, defuse conflict, and keep your dignity.

Key points

  • You can’t reason with an unreasonable person, but there are proven techniques to better manage dicey situations.
  • Verbal de-escalation tips include listening, staying calm, and looking for the hidden need.
  • Remember that one response does not fit all; you will need to remain flexible.

How to deal with hard contacts

We’ve all been there—trying valiantly to reason with an incredibly difficult person. The situation proves frustrating, maddening, and sometimes even frightening. The truth is, you can’t reason with an unreasonable person. However, there are proven techniques to better manage such dicey situations.

I learned the ropes of what’s technically called “verbal de-escalation” from many years of working in hospitals. Every year, we’d go through training on how to defuse difficult situations in which a patient, family member, or even another employee was extremely angry and seemingly out of control.

What follows are the tactics that professional crisis intervention teams use, and you can learn them, too. You can use these techniques with your boss, a customer, a family member, even a stranger. Keep in mind: The closer your relationship with the person, the more knowledge you’ll have of what will best work to calm things down.

These tips may feel unnatural at first. When you’re dealing with a person behaving unreasonably, the fear response center in your brain (the fight-flight-freeze part) is going to be activated. This part of the brain can’t distinguish between a customer that’s yelling at you or a vicious dog about to attack you. It’s up to you to engage your conscious mind in order to defuse the situation. Some of these tips are general, suggesting a mindset to cultivate. Others are more specific in advising you on what to do in the moment.

Cleaned contacts have email addresses that have hard bounced or repeatedly soft bounced, and are considered invalid.

In this article, you’ll learn about cleaned contacts and how to view or fix them.

Things to know

  • Make sure you familiarize yourself with the different types of contacts in Mailchimp.
  • Cleaned contacts don’t count toward audience limits and cannot be archived.
  • Cleaned contacts can be deleted but we recommend you keep them in your audience to avoid bounces.

Why addresses are cleaned

If you send an email campaign to an invalid email address, it will likely hard bounce. A hard bounce indicates a permanent reason an email can’t be delivered, like a typo in an email address, server problems, or an outdated address. In most cases, Mailchimp will automatically remove addresses from your audience that hard bounce.

Cleaned addresses can’t receive future email campaigns you send to your audience. You can view cleaned addresses anytime or export them, but you can’t edit them.

View or export cleaned contacts

To view your cleaned contacts, you’ll need to create a segment of them in your audience.

  1. Click the Audience icon.
  2. Click All contacts.
    How to deal with hard contacts
  3. If you have more than one audience, click the Current audience drop-down and choose the one you want to work with.
  4. Click New Segment.
  5. Set the drop-down menus to Email Marketing Status | is | Cleaned.
  6. Click Preview Segment.
  7. In the pop-up modal, name your segment and click Save.
  8. To download a file of your cleaned contacts, click ExportSegment.

    After the export is complete, we’ll send a file of your cleaned contacts to the account owner.

Fix typos

If you try to send to a mistyped address, such as [email protected]&, the email will probably hard bounce and be cleaned. Since cleaned contact information can’t be edited, you’ll need to add the new, corrected address to your audience. Mailchimp doesn’t charge for cleaned addresses, so you won’t be penalized for adding an extra contact.

To add a corrected address to your audience, follow these steps.

  1. Click the Audience icon.
  2. Click Audience dashboard.
    How to deal with hard contacts
  3. If you have more than one audience, click the Current audience drop-down and choose the one you want to work with.
  4. Click the Manage Audience drop-down and choose Add a subscriber.
  5. Type in your contact’s corrected information and check the This person gave me permission to email them box.
  6. Click Subscribe.

That’s it! The corrected email address is now subscribed to your marketing.

How to deal with hard contacts

Josh O’Farrell of Spearline shares four expert tips for better handling contacts from difficult customers.

Everyone has their bad days. Frustration is something we all face, sometimes even on a daily basis, and we can accidentally take it out on the wrong person.

For call centre agents, they can sometimes be facing over 100 frustrated callers a day and that can be extremely testing.

But not every difficult customer has to be a difficult experience.

For an agent to keep a cool head and to ensure the customer gets the best experience (they are always right, after all) be sure to check out these tips on how to deal with difficult customers the correct way.

1. Never Get Heated With the Customer

Patience is extremely vital when dealing with a customer, and a difficult one can be more than testing. But you need to have the moral high ground and try not to take anything personally.

Don’t try to talk over or argue with the customer. Be sure to take a breath if the customer is acting irrationally and let them vent it out.Responding with more anger will just further escalate the issue, delaying any resolution.

Alternatively, reassure the client that you are there to help them and are their best immediate chance to fix the problem. This simple statement usually tends to defuse the situation.

Your calm demeanor and a lowered tone will also reflect on them and will help them to settle down.

2. Be Empathetic With Your Customer

Going from the previous point, arguing or shouting over the customer is the worst tactic when defusing a situation.

Be empathetic. Listen to their problem, demonstrate that you understand their issues and that you are the support they need. The customer will appreciate you listening and using the correct verbal cues.

The best way to go about this is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Think about the times when you have had to speak to someone on a call and how frustrated you might have become.

If an agent repeats the facts and apologizes with empathy, an irate customer is sure to calm down.

3. Minimize On-Hold Times

One of the worst things anyone could face on a call is being put on hold for a long time. The customer’s patience is already worn down when they’re calling in, and being put on hold for a long time will only push more buttons.

No matter how nice the service your agents provide, the customer will feel that their issue is not being prioritized if they’re left with lengthy on-hold music.

While it is impossible to eliminate waiting time, at least in the current period, there are many strategies that businesses may employ to reduce the on-hold time.

Shorter waiting times keep the customers happy and ultimately make them much more comfortable and satisfied with the services.

Be sure to always empathize with the customer once they get through too!

4. Ensure Call Quality Is Optimal

Something for management to be wary of for their business is to have excellent call quality for both their agents and customers.

Similar to long on-hold times, the customer’s frustration will be amplified if the call quality is extremely poor.

They are trying to explain their situation and want to get it resolved quickly, but having to repeat it multiple times due to poor audio quality will only aggravate them more and drop the call.

By proactively monitoring your numbers, you will be alerted and given the time to fix any issues your agents could be facing. Customers will trust a business that they know has good audio quality.

Not only will it help speed up the process in resolving the issue, but it will become less hassle for your agents, while also being extremely cost-effective.

Nobody said dealing with customers was going to be easy, but there are ways to ensure both sides have a smoother, hassle-free experience.

Be sure to implement these tried, tested and successful steps to provide your customers with the best possible experience when calling your contact centre.

For more information about Spearline, visit:

Published On: 19th Dec 2019 – Last modified: 7th Jan 2020
Read more about – Industry Insights, Spearline

How to deal with hard contacts

People learn behaviors by observing through stimulus and response. They then act accordingly through positive or negative reinforcements. But, how do you deal with a difficult personality when you try to deviate from their attitude and it still backfires? Difficult people have a way of bringing out the worst in others. Their negativity and behavior is toxic. Sometimes you can feel them before even speaking with them. They act according to their negative reinforcements.

An article in WebMD shares information on how to deal with difficult people. “People who irritate us usually have something to show us about ourselves. “Ask yourself: How is this person holding up the mirror to me?” suggests Sandra Crowe, author of Since Strangling Isn’t an Option. For example, being around my chronically late friend reminds me how quick-tempered and impatient I can be — not my favorite traits. Reminding myself of this may keep me from bouncing off the walls when I find myself waiting for her yet again.”

Difficult people are everywhere in our lives. They come in all colors, shapes, sizes, religions, and nationalities. But, how do you pinpoint the signs that you are dealing with a difficult person when you first meet someone? Sometimes we are sucked right into their pessimism without warning. Or, perhaps we just don’t notice the hints.

Here are 5 signs you are dealing with a difficult person:

1. It’s all about them.

Difficult people are dramatic and they are fueled by reactions from others. They need to be the center of attention. You know this type of person, the one whose life seems to be a soap opera. You ask her what she did during the weekend and she moves through elaborate story lines. These folks don’t just tell a story in a few sentences. They share a novel. And, to even ask them, “How are you doing today?” is opening a can of worms. They are egocentric, narcissistic, and full of opinions.

2. They don’t do a favor without collecting.

These type of people are always scheming how they can get something for nothing. If you ask them for a favor, realize it will be like selling your soul to the devil. That favor will not go unnoticed. Difficult people are not compassionate. They are self-serving. These folks will remind you over and over what they did for you. Never mind that you have helped them in the past. That’s not in their best interest. They will bully you to repay whatever support or assistance you got from them.

3. They are victims.

The victim is the one who never gets over a trauma. They are stuck in the past. They utilize illnesses, family, and events to manipulate into getting what they want. They live in constant victimization mode. These people will reel you into their lives by making you feel sorry for them. They tell and re-tell stories of pain and failures. Negativity is their means of communication. The best way to stop their behavior is to continue giving positive statements and not buying into their pity party.

4. They can be oblivious.

Believe it or not, there are people out there who have no idea what’s going on in this reality. They live in their own world that only makes sense to them. These type of people are difficult because they are in constant denial of what’s going on. They are flaky. They can be intolerable and hard to handle. These are not the people who are dreamers and trailblazers. These are the ones who bring about drama by creating a world that is not understood. They are delusional. It’s hard to actually have a serious conversation with the oblivious person. You hope they get the notion that the universe doesn’t revolve only around them.

5. They whine, blame and gossip.

The truth is that a person who is sharing gossip with you is also telling your business to others. They blame everyone for their mishaps. They whine about the weather, the boss, the traffic, and anything that can bring on attention. They complain about everyone. They make up stories, embellishing details to make them seem more interesting. In order to stop the nonsense, you have to express your disgust about their behavior.

Difficult people don’t like when the tables turn and they are no longer in charge of stories. When they don’t get what they want from you, they move on to someone else. They don’t appreciate being called out about their negativity. They are those people who just can’t find the speck of sunshine on a cloudy day. They move through manipulation, control, and bratty behavior. You start to see their signs the minute they show zero empathy for another. All you can do is stop the behavior with positive reinforcement, and let them know that you will not tolerate their attitude. We must be grateful for those rude and obnoxious souls who show us what we are never to become.

Nearly every manager I’ve ever consulted to or coached has told me about having at least one employee who’s not so great. I’ve come to think of it as an almost inevitable part of the manager’s professional landscape: there’s generally that one (or more) employee who doesn’t perform well, or is difficult to deal with, or has a hard time getting along with others, or means well but just doesn’t ever quite do what’s expected, or….

And the unfortunate thing is, most managers get held hostage to these folks, spending a disproportionate amount of time, thought and emotional energy on them. Often hovering on the verge of letting them go for years, but never quite being able (for a variety of reasons) to pull the trigger.

Here, then, are nine things that excellent managers do when confronted with a difficult employee – things that keep them from getting sucked into an endless vortex of ineffectiveness and frustration:

    Listen. Often, when an employee is difficult we stop paying attention to what’s actually going on. We’re irritated, it seems hopeless, and we’ve already decided what we think about the employee – so we just turn our attention to other things, out of a combination of avoidance and self-protection. But the best managers get very attentive when someone’s not doing well. They know their best shot at improving the situation lies in having the clearest possible understanding of the situation – including knowing the tough employee’s point of view. An added bonus: in some cases, simply listening can save the day. You may hear about a real problem that’s not the employee’s fault that you can solve; the tough employee may start acting very differently once he or she feels heard; you may discover legitimate issues he or she has that need to be addressed.

If you learn to use these ‘good manager’ approaches when you have a difficult employee, then no matter how things turn out, you’ll end up knowing that you’ve done your best in a tough situation. And that may be the best stress reducer of all.

Check out Erika Andersen’s latest book, Leading So People Will Follow, and discover how to be a followable leader. Booklist called it “a book to read more than once and to consult many times.”

How to deal with hard contacts

Building positive relationships with potential recruits is important in the current hiring market; but what if you’re dealing with hard to reach candidates? Indeed, whether they’re tricky to get hold of during the working day, or they simply never return your calls or emails, this can get pretty frustrating when you’ve got an urgent role to fill.

How to deal with hard contacts

Often, these types of candidates aren’t available during business hours and probably won’t be sat at a desk or in front of a computer. At the same time, with a reluctance to pick up a call from an unknown number, coupled with the fact that the average worker receives 120 emails every day, there’s pressure for hiring professionals to effectively cut through the noise.

With this in mind, if you’re wondering how to contact hard to reach candidates, then you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll take you through some of the different methods you can use, while also explaining some best practise for getting in touch with these individuals.

What’s the best method to contact hard to reach candidates?

How do you usually contact candidates when hiring? While phone calls are usually most effective, you may need to take a different approach to contacting candidates who are tricky to get hold of.

After all, these types of professionals probably won’t pick up the first time round, meaning you’ll need to follow this up with an email, text, or message on social media.

Phone call

It’s a sad truth that people don’t make as many phone calls anymore. However, it’s always best to start by reaching out to candidates in this way. If they answer, you’ll stand a better chance of building up rapport; if they don’t then you can leave a message and follow-up afterwards.

When leaving a message, be sure to clearly state who you are, where you’re calling from and what role you’re hiring for. Give them your phone number and email address too. Avoid calling twice in one day; you’ll only appear desperate and they’ll get back to you if you leave a message.


Email is great for following-up after phoning a candidate. That way, you can put all your information in one place, ensuring they have something to refer to after listening to your voice message. You can also include links to relevant pages on the company’s website and even attach the full job description.

Remember, don’t keep it all about you. Personalise your emails and make sure they’re relevant to each candidate you’re contacting. Sure it might be time-consuming, but it will save you a lot of effort in the long run. After all, if they read it and think it’s just a generic email that’s gone out to a bunch of other people, they’ll probably delete it (sorry, but it’s true!).

While this might seem like you’re crossing the line slightly, you’d be surprised at how many recruiters text candidates nowadays. Keep it professional and to the point; avoid using slang or emojis and be sure to clearly outline who you are and why you’re getting in touch.

Did you know that Brits receive 93 messages or notifications from social apps every day?! As sad as it is, we’re glued to our phones when we aren’t in work; so, this can be an effective way to contact those hard to reach candidates.

What’s more, there are a number of arguments as to why WhatsApp is an excellent recruitment tool. In fact, did you know that there’s a WhatsApp business app?! It’s worth taking a look at, especially if you’re looking to engage with the younger generation of workers.

Social media

Another mode of contact to consider is messaging hard to reach candidates on social media. Naturally, LinkedIn is great for this; after calling the candidate, you could then connect with them on LinkedIn to ensure they keep you front-of-mind. You probably want to avoid more personal accounts like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – unless they have a specific, professional focus.

Again, when connecting with them make sure you include a short message explaining why you’re getting in touch. Tailor this to every different candidate you reach out to. We cannot reiterate that point enough!

Getting in touch at the right time

In many cases, you won’t be able to reach these candidates during traditional working hours. For that reason, you might need to adapt your own schedule during this initial contact time. That includes reaching out between 8am and 9am, at lunchtime and after hours.

Just be wary that this is still eating into their personal time; so, they might be reluctant to speak or avoid answering your calls altogether. But, as long as you follow the advice above in terms of how to get in touch, you should be on the right track to ensuring you offer a great candidate experience.

Keeping these hard to reach candidates engaged

If you are able to get through to these hard to reach candidates, you’ll need to work hard to keep them engaged with the company and role you’re hiring for.

Communication is key here. Make sure you get back to candidates in a timely manner and don’t leave them waiting for feedback. They’ll only get snapped up by another savvy recruiter.

Alongside this, keep them updated throughout the recruitment process. Even if you don’t have an update for them, be sure to check in via phone, email or even text. Better still, invite them to a face-to-face meeting. It’s much easier to build relationships this way and they’re more likely to stay in touch if they’ve met with you previously.

Finally, never underestimate the power of sending over useful content. Whether it’s updates on the business, or interview tips, recruiters need to add value to candidates. You want them to see you as a friend; someone who is helping them reach the next step in their career. Not someone who’s simply in it for the commission.

Are you struggling to contact candidates?

If you’re still not hearing back from candidates then don’t worry, you’re not alone! It’s important to look at all areas of your hiring process; from ensuring you have a well-written job advert, to understanding how to target passive candidates.

Hopefully the above advice should give you some food for thought, but do get in touch with us here at CV-Library if you’re looking for further support with your hiring efforts.

P oor Ryan Block. He and his wife Veronica thought they would simply make a phone call to cancel their Comcast service when they switched providers. Instead, they went through a hellish 18-minute ordeal with an abusive “retention specialist” who browbeat both of them to keep their service. The result was a Kafka-esque conversation with a rep who continually held his powers of cancellation far out of reach.

When Block, an AOL employee and former technology journalist, decided to record the last several minutes of this seemingly endless call and post it online, the result was a PR disaster for Comcast. And what made many people angriest is that Block did just about everything right: he kept his cool, set appropriate boundaries and calmly kept stating his case. This call has quickly become an online rallying cry against corporate arrogance and sales pressure.

But most of the time, you have more power in these situations than you think. As a former call center manager turned psychotherapist, I’d like to share some tricks you can use the next time you’re on the line with the rep from hell.

  1. Hate the sin, love the sinner. Comcast claimed in a written apology that they don’t train their customer service representatives this way. Technically, they are probably correct. However, most companies strongly reward – and penalize – their retention reps around whether they keep reluctant customers. So first, be aware this is probably a low-paid employee whose job may be on the line, and realize that empathy will usually get you further than threats.
  2. Watch for “bracketing.” This is what I call a technique I see commonly in politics. Do you like family values? Of course. Should people learn to speak English in America? Golly, my English teacher always thought so. What is happening here is that people ask stupid questions with only one good answer, and then use your answer as proof that you should do what they want. Cable reps, salespeople and clerks selling extended warranties use bracketing because it leverages the power of influence, and it works. So stop their rhythm and don’t ever answer their questions. When someone asks, “Don’t you want the fastest Internet available?,” respond by politely redirecting them to your request.
  3. Repetition, repetition, repetition. One call center rep posted that their workplace had a policy of “three nos and a go” – when a customer says no three times to upselling, let them go. And when I teach people how to communicate in crisis situations, I also teach them to calmly repeat their request three times. Unless your rep is a bully like Mr. Block’s, your solution is often one more “no” away.
  4. Use the magic word. There is one thing most reps hate more than not closing the sale: getting called out in front of their supervisors. In call center lingo, the word for this is “escalate.” Politely tell the rep that you would like to escalate the call to a manager or supervisor, and often you will find yourself magically cancelled.
  5. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Finally, realize that none these techniques may work with a determined rep who is tone-deaf to anything but winning. Instead of suffering through a lengthy ordeal with people like this, simply hang up and try your luck again with another representative.

Sadly, there is one more option: wait a few years. Sociologists have long talked about “the tragedy of the commons” where, for example, farmers over-graze open land into oblivion as long as their cows get there first. Retention policies are a modern-day tragedy of the commons: by hassling their customers now, cable companies may be improving their short-term bottom lines as they chase people away to options like Hulu and Netflix. And for many, that may ultimately be the best revenge of all against the customer service rep from hell.

Rich Gallagher, LMFT, heads Point of Contact Group, a communications skills training firm in Ithaca, NY. His books include What to Say to a Porcupine and The Customer Service Survival Kit. Follow him on Twitter at @GallagherPOC.

How to deal with hard contacts

The call center agents are front faces for any business. Brand image can be enhanced or deteriorated by a simple interaction, that is why they are responsible and accountable for client experiences. On top of it, keeping it cool with difficult and angry customers is a real challenge which they come across very frequently. Hence, it can become quite a depressing job at times. But by adapting certain skills an agent can learn how to tackle a challenging person. Here are the tips to be followed:

1) Win them with kindness:

If a customer calls and is annoyed with the product or service of the company, be extra courteous and show kindness but not to a great extent, they might get the feeling that you are fake. Be sincere and respectful, show sympathy for their situation and empathy for their frustration. By exhibiting your kind gestures, you can ease the customers. This practice never fails- it might not work to the fullest, but it can help the agent win half the battle.

Don’t take the Bait; when you are dealing with difficult customers, there is an expectation that you will counter back. Rather surprise them, soften your voice and show loads of courtesy and etiquettes. Remove your hard feelings and handle the situation professionally.

2) Design a solution that bridges the gap:

Once your furious customer is done with the complaints, it’s time for you to gather the facts by asking questions and solve the problem. You are an agent and you cannot stick to one client all day; you have your targets to accomplish. But at the same time to wrap up a call, you cannot give them a temporary solution. So take little extra time to solve their query and satisfy them. The ultimate solution should be fair and justifiable for both parties; the customer and the company.

3) Apologize for their inconvenience:

It can be hard for the customer care agents not to lose their temper after so much of yelling. But the customers impact the company’s profitability directly. If an apology can help you in retaining them into your business then you should. Say sorry whether they are right or wrong. This will give a good impression and make them calm. This way you can save a customer who almost made the mind of switching to your competitors. Your words can make or break the deal, so choose your actions wisely.

4) Beat their expectations:

Extra attention is cherished by everyone. Whatever your client is expecting from you, be one step ahead. Look after them like the way you want to be treated. Take additional time to listen and understand their problem and provide a quicker solution. Proactively solve their issues before the deadline you commit. Send them a text, an email, or call as soon as you resolve their query. To keep customers happy, you must consistently be exceeding their expectations.

Another way to deal with an angry customer is to agree with them. It is absolutely a last thing they are expecting out of you.

5) Deliver more:

Here’s an opportunity to turn the customer around whom you almost lost. Giving a bit extra than what you promised can help them change the perception they developed about your company. If you promised that you will deliver a product or service in a week, ensure that it is delivered in 4 or 5 days. Give a complementary service to them as a gesture for which they need not pay. Giving a little more than you promised is a great way to say sorry for the previous trouble they faced with your company and leave them with a good feeling. This way you can regenerate their belief in your company.

Difficult customers are one of the most intense challenges an agent faces. But by implementing these tips a call center agent might not lose anybody who is important. This way they can grow themselves in terms of confidence and self-esteem.