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Tips for Dealing with Rude Customers

I do hate to start with this statement; however, let’s be honest . . .

Defective products and lack of follow-up are truly the cause of many unhappy customers and in most cases your contact center staff has to deal with the repercussions.  

Dealing with Rude Customers

If there are any issues with products/services the contact center should be the first to know so that they can reach out and alert the customers affected via the appropriate channel.  You will be surprised how forgiving customers are when they know you have a problem and you have proactively contacted them about a situation and can offer alternatives.

How can a customer be rude if they do not have to contact you with an issue?

It is very difficult to have “GOOD TELEPHONE MANNERS” if the caller is unreasonable, rude and out of control; however, it is your staff’s responsibility to listen and act on what the caller requests.  An “act” just might be to turn the call over to their team leader or supervisor.

Tips for staff to handle a complaint call or angry customer:


  • Shut out distractions
  • Sit up straight
  • Remain in a neutral adult frame of mind
  • Focus on the caller


  • Do not jump to conclusions
  • Be encouraging
  • Show the caller you are paying attention
  • Pay attention to everything that is said NOT just the information you are looking for
  • Notice what is not said
  • Focus on what the caller is saying NOT on what you are going to say next
  • Take notes on key words
  • Let the caller talk

Create rapport

  • Emphasize and apologize when necessary
  • Use the caller’s name
  • Let the caller know you want to solve their problem
  • Ask questions
  • Indicate that you have taken notes and want to repeat the problem so you can help with the best solution

Create the solution

  • The caller is your partner, so ask them for help
  • Ask what he or she would like you to do
  • Explore your options

Confirm a mutual understanding

  • Review agreements and next steps

Follow through

  • Thank the caller and take immediate action
  • Do not put it aside for later attention
  • Do it NOW
    If applicable:
  •         Advise other departments
  •         Mark follow-up dates on/in your calendar

Prescribe a cure

  • Identify what caused the problem
  • What will cure it
  • How it can be prevented in the future

Remember . . .

  • Be polite
  • Never take what a caller says personally
  • Keep calm and in control
  • Use common sense
  • Keep everything in perspective
  • Everyone can help
  • Ask questions

Nothing you can ever do is more valuable than winning back unhappy customers and solving problems so they do not happen again.