How Customer Service Representatives Can Defuse Angry Customers


Being an effective customer service representative (CSR) means dealing with unhappy, upset, and angry customers. Learning how to manage these types of calls is part of professional call center services. It is the difference between letting the customer have control of the call, or taking control and guiding the customer to an effective resolution of their problem.

  1. Let the customer vent. Avoid interrupting the customer while they are telling you about the problem in whatever tone they are using. If you try to interrupt them, chances are you are just going to make them more angry and irate.
  2. Ask clarifying questions. Start off by finding out the customer’s name, and use their name as you reiterate the problem in simple yes/no questions to verify you have an understanding of the issue, like “Sam, just to clarify, you said ___, correct?”
  3. Be empathetic but not sympathetic. It is okay to empathize with the customer by using the right tone of voice and word combinations. “Sam, I am so sorry you are having problems with ___ (re-state the problem).”
  4. Take ownership of the problem. Once you have clarified the issue at hand, the next step is to take ownership by providing the customer with a statement of reassurance: “Sam, I can definitely help you with ___ (re-state the problem). Is it okay if I ask you some questions, Sam, so we can find an appropriate solution?”
  5. Ask probing questions to get to the root of the problem. Based upon the type of problem, sometimes there is more than what the customer is telling you initially. Ask pointed questions to get to the heart of the matter, since this will allow you to truly resolve their problem.
  6. Never apologize for the company. No matter whether the problem is a billing error or another mistake made by the company, avoid apologizing for the company, as this lowers the customer’s confidence in the business.
  7. Remember to smile throughout the call while you speak. Smiling gives your voice a sense of kindness and friendliness customers will respond to, even when angry.
  8. Remain calm throughout the call. If you remain calm, it has a calming effect on the caller.
  9. Match your voice tone and style to the caller. Being bubbly and perky is wonderful when the caller is not angry or upset. Adjust your tone accordingly; otherwise, the caller might think you are talking down to them or simply being snarky.
  10. Connect with the caller. Gauge the caller and connect with them based upon where they are from, and adjust the flow of the call. If the customer needs extra reassurance, give it to them. If they are technical, avoid detailed explanations if those are not necessary.
  11. Don’t be afraid to hit mute while the customer is talking. Mute your speaker to take a deep breath and recompose yourself, as needed.
  12. Avoid putting the caller on hold. It is better to keep them on the line as you work through the problem, rather than putting them on hold. Try to keep them talking about non-problem related topics, like their kids, job, or the weather. The more you talk to them, the more they gain confidence in your abilities to help them and for them to stop feeling angry.

It takes time for CSRs to develop the skills needed to deal with angry and upset callers. It requires patience, persistence, and practice. Do not be afraid to ask for help in managing your inbound calls from Signius Communications, a professional call answering service. Contact us today at 800-295-7000 to learn more about our services and how we can help your business.

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