One of the hardest things to teach people who are new to
customer service is the art of staying calm when dealing with
While there's nothing easy about having an irate person blame
you for a problem you probably didn't cause, dealing with
difficult customers appropriately can save your company business
and uphold your professional reputation.
Here are my suggestions for keeping your cool when dealing
with angry customers.
De-personalize the situation
Realize that, in all likelihood, the customer is not angry
you personally. Even if you did something to cause his or her
anger (hopefully unintentionally), most difficult customers'
anger is not really personal in nature. They may be angry
because their expectations weren't met, because they feel they
were wronged, or because of something personal and completely
unrelated to you or the company you work for. Make up your mind
when dealing with difficult customers that you aren't going to
take their anger personally.
Lower your voice
It can be tempting when dealing with an angry customer to
raise your tone of voice to match his or hers. Not only is this
highly unprofessional and a poor reflection on the company you
represent, but it will only escalate the situation. When you
speak softly, the irate customer will need to quiet down in
order to hear the answer to his demands.
Even if you think the customer's demands are crazy, chances
are you have been angry yourself a time or two. When dealing
with a difficult customer, you don't have to agree with what
they say to put yourself in their shoes and show some empathy
for what they are feeling.
Remind yourself that you represent your company
This ties in with de-personalizing the clients' anger.
Remember that dealing with angry customers is important even if
you aren't able to satisfy the angry customers' concerns. Other
customers may be watching, and how you handle yourself reflects
on you and the company you work for. Dealing with difficult
customers appropriately goes a long way towards convincing
others that you will also deal appropriately with their concerns.
When all else fails, there's no shame in handing off a
difficult customer to someone else. Even if the person you are
asking to help doesn't have more authority, bringing a fresh
face into a conflict can sometimes have a calming effect. This
is especially helpful if the client is angry because of
something you actually did. If you choose to do this, however,
be prepared for the client to make angry comments about you,
which may or may not be true, without defending yourself.
If you have difficulty dealing with angry customers, don't quit
your job and assume you just aren't cut out for dealing with the
public. There are some simple skills which you can learn to help
you when dealing with difficult customers. The five listed above
are just a start.
About the Author
Bill Walsh has successfully developed/delivered over 2500
training engagements in the U.S., Canada & the U.K. He has
appeared on radio, TV & has been quoted in Fortune Magazine &
the Wall Street Journal. For more info & proven solutions to
your training problems visit