Dealing with Customer’s Anger and Hostility

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Keep eye contact. Stand or sit up straight. Keep your arms uncrossed. Actively sympathize. Express sympathy for their unpleasant customer experience. Respect and understanding go a long way toward smoothing things over. Apologize gracefully. Find a solution. Ask him what he feels should be done or put forward your own fair and realistic answer to the problem. Take a few minutes on your own. Rather than let that stress linger inside you, take a short walk, treat yourself to a snack or find someone to talk to who makes you laugh. When a customer starts yelling or being otherwise rude, there is nothing to be gained by responding in a similar manner.

Remember, the customer is not angry with you, they are displeased with the performance of your product or the quality of the service you provide. The first thing an angry customer wants is to vent. Once you understand why the customer is unhappy, it is time to offer a solution. Despite the provocation, try to remember that the customer doesn't know you personally.

He was probably angry or having a bad day before he met you, and had already decided that he was going to "raise hell" with somebody. In these situations, it doesn't matter who you are, you're just the unlucky one in the firing line. One way of learning how to deal with rude customers is with Role Playing. Our article can help you use this technique to prepare for a variety of challenging or difficult situations.

3 Types of Angry Customers and How to Handle Them | Sharpen

A rude customer might want to vent her frustration. Demonstrate that you have taken in what she's said by occasionally reflecting back her words. For example, use phrases like, "So, it sounds like you're saying that," "What I'm hearing is," or, "Is this what you mean? Keep your arms unfolded, and maintain appropriate eye contact to demonstrate your open attitude.

And when you reply, keep your voice low and even, to keep things calm. Saying sorry might run against every instinct you have, if you've been subjected to a barrage of abuse. Finding This Article Useful? You can learn another career skills, like this, by joining the Mind Tools Club. Receive new career skills every week, plus get our latest offers and a free downloadable Personal Development Plan workbook. You may have apologized and be going all out to help your customer, but you don't want him to walk all over you.

If you're a team manager, your team member may ask you to step in to help resolve the situation.

That means balancing your responsibility for ensuring that you satisfy your customer with the duty of care you have towards your people or your organization. In situations when a customer's behavior has become unacceptable, it's important to tactfully let her know that she's "crossed a line" — for example, when she's using insulting, threatening or racist words or behavior.

Make sure that you agree with your manager or head of department what behaviors are to be deemed unacceptable in this way.

Ask him what he feels would be an acceptable solution. You then have something concrete to work toward.

Learn what to say, when to say it and stay stress free, safe, and professional under pressure

If so, remind him that you want to help, and counter with suggestions that are fair and reasonable, and negotiate towards a mutually acceptable deal. Look for quick, simple solutions. Many problems that lead to customer rudeness will have occurred before, so your company may have policies that allow you to offer refunds or replacements, for example, with little fuss. Fast resolutions satisfy the customer, minimize stress, and end difficult situations swiftly. Encountering a rude customer can be a highly stressful experience, so it's important to take a breather afterward.


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If you can remember that very few of your customers behave in this way, you'll gain some valuable perspective. It's also important to think through what happened, to consider whether the customer's rudeness reflects a bigger problem or a recurring issue. You may need to report the situation to your manager — for example, if the problem is beyond your remit to resolve — or follow up with the customer, much as you might prefer not to. If you're a manager, remember that it's not just about the customer's feelings. An encounter with a rude customer will eventually end, but your team members are the people that you work with and manage every day.

Choose your time well — straight after the situation is a good time for some team members but not for others. Discuss what was said, to ensure that you have a full picture of what occurred, and find out if there's anything you need to look into in light of her experience. Rude customers differ from the merely unhappy in that they can't control their anger. They are unreasonable, unfriendly, and prone to using verbal abuse, offensive language and threatening behavior.

But you're in business to serve your customers, so it's important to try to help them. When dealing with rude customers, it's crucial to control your own emotions, and to counteract their inflammatory behavior with calm, considered responses.

Handling Angry, Hostile and Abusive Customers

Remember, try not to take any comments personally, listen actively to your customer, and apologize if it's appropriate to do so. This site teaches you the skills you need for a happy and successful career; and this is just one of many tools and resources that you'll find here at Mind Tools. Subscribe to our free newsletter , or join the Mind Tools Club and really supercharge your career!

Expert Interviews Audio Forums Infographics. Quizzes Templates and Worksheets Videos. For Your Organization. By the Mind Tools Content Team. Tip: Your personal safety is paramount. Tip: One way of learning how to deal with rude customers is with Role Playing. Subscribe to Our Newsletter Receive new career skills every week, plus get our latest offers and a free downloadable Personal Development Plan workbook.

2. Smile When You Talk

Read our Privacy Policy. Tip: Make sure that you agree with your manager or head of department what behaviors are to be deemed unacceptable in this way.

Key Points Rude customers differ from the merely unhappy in that they can't control their anger. Add this article to My Learning Plan.