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Strategies to Successfully Deal with Rude Customers

If you have worked in customer service, especially in the contact center realm, you know that rude customers are inevitable. At some point your number will be selected in the call routing lottery and on the other end of that “ding!” will be a customer full of vitriol and ready to unload. It’s happened to you, me, your supervisor, and every single one of your coworkers. It’s a tough situation that can be emotionally draining, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some strategies you can use immediately:

Rude Customer

Don’t take it personally

No doubt, you will find countless articles online offering up this clichéd bit of advice. Practicing this can be a tall order, and is definitely easier said than done when it’s you on the call, and not the author. When you are in this situation, try to keep in mind that you were randomly selected for this call and the caller would likely be acting the very same way with anyone that picked up the call. They may be rude TO you, but they aren’t being rude ABOUT you, which is a big distinction.

Don’t react or engage their rudeness

It’s unlikely that you are able to counter rude customers in a way that completely changes their frame of mind. Don’t expect them to make a dramatic personality change because of something you say. Let go of your personal need to be right or “win” an argument as neither of these will lead to positive outcomes for you, or your company. All you can control is the way you react, so keep your own dignity and values intact when responding. Continue to be kind and don’t lose your cool over something you can’t control.

Respond to the situation, not the rhetoric

The most important thing in this call is to read between the lines and work to understand the true nature of the customer’s problem. Once the issue is identified you can find ways to add value or contribute towards a path to resolution. Becoming a helpful asset to the caller is one of the best ways to deescalate the situation.


This is another word in the contact center world that is used to the point of becoming cliché, however, it’s important to sympathize with the customer’s situation or issue. If you find it difficult in your present situation, consider this: There have been times when you were rude to others in the past. Do those individual situations define you as a person overall? In much the same way, the customer’s behavior doesn’t make them entirely rude as a person, either. Put yourself in their shoes, and remember the golden rule.

Don’t hold on to it

Once you are done with the call, move on! Don’t hold onto a grudge and let it poison the rest of your customer interactions. If you need to, take a moment to relax with some deep breaths. Chances are slim that your caller is going to be thinking about you for the rest of the day. Don’t let them have that power over you. Take the power back by clearing your mind and not letting them weigh you down.

Dealing with rude customers is an unavoidable fact of the customer service and contact center life. The next time you get that call, take a deep breath and think back to these strategies for making the best of an unpleasant situation. While the outcome may not always be perfect--you, your customers, and your company’s reputation--will certainly be better off if you practice these simple strategies.