How to Deal With Irate Customers?

3 pm and for half an hour now you’re stuck still in the slow moving line of the complaints section of a utility company.

Suddenly from somewhere upfront you hear obvious squeals of what could just be the dawning of a fascinating cat fight.

People buzz and peer at what could be going on and curious, curious, so do you. True enough the costumer being attended to by a frazzled costumer complaints representative is having it out with a lady in a polka-dot skirt.

You catch drifts of heated exchanges but nothing makes sense. Sighing, you think how thank goodness you weren’t in the shoes of the stressed costumer complaints representative.

Customers who get upset and rile up do so on two accounts.

First, is when they’re expectation of a quality product or service isn’t met. Second, when they feel ignored.

Anyone at the receiving end of a complaint would do well to keep the given points in mind, plus the fact that people in the act of voicing a complaint are in a heightened sensitive state of emotion.

So, what to do when you are confronted by a complaining scenario? Read on how to handle an irate customer.

Present a Professional Image

Breath. Detach yourself from what could most likely be a negative scenario by consciously shifting your mind to a higher plane.

Sounds tough?  Not really. Just a little play with imagination.

Think of yourself as a doctor with an ailing patient that needs your care. Or, you can think of yourself as parent who is faced with a child who needs soothing and reassurance.

Say to yourself that your job is important and the help you extend will affect someone’s life for the better. This frame of thought will give you mental strength and a genuine willfulness to hear out even the worst complainers.

Greet and Smile

Greet, smile and verbally assure the irate costumer that you are ready to hear and help her/him. Make sure your body language projects attention.

Nothing can be more upsetting to a costumer than having to deal with a company representative whose demeanor shows indifference.

A female irate customer yelling at phone

Listen Emphatically

Hear the complaint and take notes if necessary. Ask questions. If the irate customer is on a level of distress (using angry words), remind yourself that the anger is not a personal attack on you as the company representative.

Simply remind the costumer, that you will do what you can to address the situation.

Use the costumer’s name when conversing. People like to hear the sound of their name.

Extend Genuine Sympathy

Apologize for the inconvenience the costumer is experiencing and lay-out possible solutions to the problem.

Make sure that offered solutions are within a time frame.

This will give your words weight and will reduce if not eliminate the permeating tension.

Close With a Thank You

There is a saying that goes “the customer is always right” which is a half truth of course, because logically nobody can be right all the time. Nevertheless, this espouses that in all cases; never tell your costumer that he is wrong.

You may win the argument with all glory and splendor, but you sure will lose the business.

Instead, thank your costumer for his or her time (a business complaint is still a business transaction) and reassure that situation will be handled promptly.


As an added bonus, the best way to put a Class A oomph on your service is to also  reassure your costumer that “feedback” will be available the soonest.

About Tony Evans

+Tony Evans is a freelance web designer, an alumna of Business Management at Upskilled Australia  and a mother of a beautiful daughter, Athena. She has a passion in Aerobics and cooking healthy recipes.


  1. Here’s my policy regarding angry customers: I listen, I defend myself (or my team) and I tell him I come back with a special offer or a gift proposal that would compensate any inconveniences he had.

  2. Great article. I generally try not to be defensive when I am faced with an angry customers. I try to listen and put myself in the shoes of customer. Then, I ask them what I could do to resolve the issue. If it is reasonable, I do whatever makes them happy.

  3. This is big task to do because when you will come in these field then you should have enough talent in you to handle this kind of situation and if you will handle them well then you can do many things in your professional life.

  4. It’s really difficult to deal with any irate customer, you need lot of patience and good temperament. So that you can actually listen them carefully while showing them their value. Avoid any reactions on their bad words, try to calm them down.

  5. The most difficult task of a business to make a customer happy, and who are able to make their customers happy wins the world, I think your Points are pretty decent.

  6. I think the steps on how to handle Irate costumers are:
    Actively listen.
    Allow the client to express their opinions.
    Maintain your personal integrity at all times.
    Be sympathetic
    Be empathetic.
    Ask questions.
    Move into solution-mode – know when to ask open-ended questions, and when to stick with “yes” or “no” questions.
    Apologize when appropriate.
    Offer to try to fix the problem.
    Gain agreement on your resolution
    Write a clear, concise log of the incident.

  7. Hi Tony,
    When it comes to dealing with irate customers, whether it is in person or via the phone, it is always best to keep a calm composure as after all, even though the problem came from your company, it is not technically your fault. Even if they impugn you with nasty and foul language, always remember that their words cannot hurt you and that you have a job because your company has customers like them.

  8. Customer satisfaction is the foremost requirement for the success of every business. If customers are not satisfied with a particular product or service, it is obvious that they will get upset. Giving proper attention and making customers feel important is another way to retain the existing customers to your business.

  9. Great Artie! basically Customers hate scripted replies that are obviously not genuine. I have to admit that I’ve suggested the “I understand………” response to some of my seminar participants, but only as a totally genuine comment. I want customer service people who genuinely understand why I’m annoyed or frustrated.

  10. Great advice, I always remember that an angry customer isn’t angry at me personally, and that makes it much easier to deal with. We’re all human though, some workers find it upsetting, so there needs to be proper support and training in the workplace to help us cope

  11. Hello Tony,
    Great sound
    Having face this critical situation required patience from ourside and listen what the frustated customers have to tell.He need to get someone solve his problem as early as possible.The word”apologies” are the main tool to calm the angry customers and argument will give adverse result. Thanks for share great tips.

  12. One of the jobs that I do not want to do is customer service. They should be able to keep on smiling despite being scolded badly. Smile .. smile and smile

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