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Jahnvi Singh Parihar
Communication Skills, Educational Technology & Operations Expert
Asked a question last year

How to handle an angry customer?

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Jahnvi Singh Parihar
Communication Skills, Educational Technology & Operations Expert

There have been instances that the customers get disappointed with the services provided to them and often end up calling the customer care centre angrily which makes it a challenging task for the employees to handle them. In these conditions, self control & patience are the only skills that might help you. 

And here are some more tips that may help you get through these awkward situations.

1. Listen to Customers

Sometimes, customers just need to know that you’re listening. If they’re confused or have a problem, by lending a listening ear, you’re showing that you care and that you’re not dismissing them.

2. Apologize

When something goes wrong, apologize. It’s amazing how calming the words “I’m sorry” can be. Deal with the problem immediately and let the customer know what you have done.

3. Take Them Seriously

Make customers feel important and appreciated. No matter how ridiculous a question may sound to you; it’s important to the customer.

4. Stay Calm

Difficult as it is sometimes, it is important to stay calm. Your calming approach will help your customer stay calm too. 

5. Identify and Anticipate Needs

Most customer needs are emotional rather than logical. The more you know your customers, the better you become at anticipating their needs. Communicate regularly so that you’re aware of problems or upcoming needs.

6. Suggest Solutions

Have a menu of calming remedies which you and your employees can use. Whether it’s purely a refund or return, or if it’s coupons or a free service.

7. Appreciate the Power of “Yes”

Always look for ways to help your customers. When they have a request (as long as it is reasonable) tell them that you can do it. Always do what you say you’re going to do.

8. Acknowledge Your Limits

Yes is a powerful word but if you’re unable to fulfil a request: know your limits. You can’t be everything to everyone. If you don’t think you can fulfil the request, help them find an alternate remedy.

Shubham Talwar
e- commerce and service sector Expert

Five Ways to Deal with an Angry Customer

1. Reassure the Customer

One of the first and most important things to do is reassure the customer that you are listening. Even if you won’t be able to give them exactly what they want, they need to be sure that their message is getting across.

The sad fact is that many customers will have had negative experiences with contact centres before. You need to demonstrate that they have your attention and that you really intend to help.

Examples of reassuring statements

“Calling us was the right thing to do”

“I’ll let you explain the situation first, and then we’ll find you a solution”

“Please feel free to tell me anything you think is relevant”

“I can certainly understand why this is distressing”

“Your issue is a cause for concern – let’s find out why this happened”

I always try to show I am really listening. Remember the human side of things and show empathy when the customer is distressed – there’s nothing worse than a ‘computer said no’ or ‘terms and conditions’ line when someone is upset.

2. Show Empathy

Empathy is important, so it can help to show that anyone would feel the same under these circumstances. The quickest way to anger somebody is to suggest that they are overreacting.

Even if the customer’s response does seem out of proportion, there are ways to be apologetic without just saying ‘sorry’. In fact, saying sorry can often give the customer a new avenue for their complaint – “sorry doesn’t solve my problem”.

How to handle an angry customer?

Examples of empathy statements 

“I would feel the same in your situation, but we will sort this out”

“Your experience does not meet our expectations”

“I know how frustrating it can be – let’s see how I can help you”

“I can certainly appreciate how you feel”

“Thank you for bringing this to my attention”

The advisor has to understand whether the customer’s needs are ‘physical’ or ’emotional’. With physical needs, the customer is angry because they don’t have something they should have.

Phrases for those customers are things like “Let me sort this out for you so you can get the refund you were expecting”.

If their needs are emotional, they are angry because the advisor has not understood how they are feeling.

For those customers, use phrases like “I can tell you are frustrated, and my job is to make sure you are not frustrated any more.”

3. Keep it Factual

How to handle an angry customer?

If the customer’s anger is making the call difficult to deal with, try to keep things factual. Simply outlining the situation encourages them to focus on their communication and makes it harder to maintain an aggressive tone.

It’s also very useful to give the customer some idea of what measures you are going to take to help them. You may be confident in your abilities, but they don’t know anything about you or the process you are following.

4. Add Personality

Some phrases can get the customer to empathise more with the advisor they are speaking to. Even when they are angry with the service, there’s no reason for them to be angry with you personally. In fact, you often hear this phrase in complaint calls: “I know this isn’t your fault, but I’m unhappy with how your company has behaved.”

Advisors can use phrases that build a relationship with the customer, making it much harder for them to act aggressively.

5. Offer Solutions

How to handle an angry customer?

Finally, advisors need to sell a solution to the customer. This can be tough, because it’s not always going to be the outcome that the customer hoped for. By bringing them into the process and offering the solution as an agreement between both parties, advisors stand a much better chance of resolving the issue.

If they’re not totally happy, you can ask them what would need to change, and then look for a middle ground.


6. Let the Customer Vent

After all, they can only do this for so long. Once they are out of steam you can begin to problem solve the query. If you interrupt the customer, you will only make them more irate. When the angry customer finally takes a breath, then you should add in the empathy quotes, as suggested earlier.

Once the customer runs out of steam, you can begin to problem solve the query. If you interrupt the customer, you will only make them more irate.

7. Take Suggestions to Management

If an issue is recurring, instead of just dealing with it each time, talk with management about improving processes so the issue is minimised in future. This way you are actively assisting angry customers, whilst avoiding future stress.

8. Never Argue Back

Remember that the simple mathematical rule of ‘two negatives make a positive’ does not work in this case. You have to face a confrontational situation by calming the irate customer with your positive and professional behaviour. It is only by empathising with their viewpoint and suggesting a possible solution that you will resolve the situation and satisfy the customer.

9. Never Say No

How to handle an angry customer?

An advisor should never use the word “NO” (including its variations – “it’s not possible”,”it can’t be done”,”we do not have” etc.). The customer on the other side of the line expects to hear what the advisor CAN DO to fix his problem and not what’s not possible!