Overcoming Nasty Callers: 7 Tips from Call Center Experts

The toughest aspect of any customer service position is dealing with nasty callers. Whether you’re a receptionist working the front desk for a small business, or a customer service representative handling product questions for an e-commerce giant, customers can sometimes be hard to handle. Your goal is to work through the aggression, redirect it into something positive, and turn the initial salty caller into someone sugary sweet.

As experienced customer service representatives know, you’re going to get a handful of upset callers in your career. We’ve listed some of the most common phrases you’ll hear, along with advice on how to overcome and redirect each.

How to overcome nasty callers

In this article, we’ll go over some of the techniques you’ll use, but here are the general types of angry customers you’ll encounter.

  • Law suit: Threatens to sue you personally as well as your business.
  • Manager: Demands to speak to a manager every time they are upset.
  • Online: Threatens to trash your company online.
  • Coming in: Threatens to come into the office to wreak havoc.
  • Full name: Customer asks for your full  name, because they are going to speak to a manager to have you fired.
  • Cursing: Customer expresses how upset they are by using every curse word in the dictionary.
  • Quit/Wants Refund: Customer threatens to cancel and demands a refund for anything they’ve already paid for.

Angry Caller: Calling My Lawyer

Law suit: “I don’t want to have to call my lawyer.”

Being threatened with a lawsuit is something no business or person ever wants. Lawsuits are time consuming, costly, leave a nasty stain on your reputation, and should try to be avoided at all costs. Here’s how we handle those situations:

Overcome and redirect: When a customer threatens to sue, the first thing you want to do is get to the root of the issue. Are they upset about their service? Do they have billing issues? Once you are aware of the problem, you can get to work correcting it. Assure them that their business is important to  you, and that you apologize on behalf of the company for any issues they’ve encountered. Typically, when customers threaten legal action, it’s also a good idea to get your supervisor involved as they may be able to offer credits, refunds or other incentives to make them happy that a general support rep may not be able to.

Angry Caller: Speak to Manager

Manager: “I want to speak with your manager.”

If you’re working with a customer and they’re not happy with the answers you’re giving, their next move is to ask to speak with a supervisor or manager. Sometimes it may get them what they want, but not always. Here’s how we handle those situations:

Try to address their issues first: When someone calls and they immediately ask to speak with a supervisor, our support reps always try to assist them first. Most of the time, the caller doesn’t really have an issue that needs to be escalated, and can usually be solved by working with our general support team. However, if you find that you can no longer help them because you’ve done all you can, politely ask if you can place them on hold so you can get your supervisor up to speed on the situation before transferring them over. That way the customer doesn’t have to repeat themselves which will certainly cause more frustration.

Angry Caller: Leaving Bad Review

Online: “I’m going to leave a nasty review on Yelp!”

The internet is a great place full of infinite information. It’s also a place where angry customers go to trash your company. When online reviews could make or break your brand, it’s important to maintain a good reputation. Here’s how we handle those situations:

Put yourself in their shoes: Acknowledging that you understand the caller’s frustration, and putting yourself in their shoes is always a good place to start, as it allows you to see things from their perspective. The next course of action is to address their primary concerns and work to get them resolved as quickly as possible. When a customer sees that you’re working hard to ease their trouble, they are able to calm down and are usually not as quick to vent their frustrations online.

Angry Caller: Coming Into Office

Coming in: “Just wait until I get there!”

Customers who are threatening to come to your place of business and possibly cause a scene or worse, is something that should not be taken lightly. Here’s how we handle those situations.

Remain calm, but take action if necessary: If a customer is warning you that they’re coming in and it sounds threatening, your first course of action should be to offer to transfer them to a manager. When angry customers know they are getting escalated to the higher ups, they’ll usually calm down. However, if they’re becoming increasingly threatening and you’re worried about the well being of your office and office staff, let the customer know that they can come in, but that the authorities will also be there to ensure everyone’s safety. That will usually stop them in their tracks!

Angry Caller: What Is Your Full Name

Full name: “What is your full name? I’m calling your boss.”

Sometimes when customers ask for your full name it’s because they want to leave a review online and mention you by name, or complain to your supervisor specifically about how they perceived you mishandled their issue. Here’s how we handle those situations:

Take advantage of a learning opportunity: If a customer is requesting your full name to report you to your superiors, kill them with kindness and just give them your name. After you get off the call, you can meet with your supervisor to discuss the call and see how you could have handled it better. However, there are many instances where a customer support rep did all they could, but no answer was going to make the customer happy.

Angry Caller: Cursing

Cursing: “F*%#@!!!”

Talking to a customer who is cursing is never easy. Whether they’re cursing out of frustration or damning you to hell, it can be hard to see past the anger. However, as a customer service representative, you must always try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Remember that to them, their reason for being frustrated is valid. Here’s how we handle those situations:

Try not to take it personally: When a customer curses out of frustration, the best thing to do is ignore it and continue helping them the best you can. However, if a customer begins cursing at you and becomes verbally abusive, it’s important to remind the customer that you are only trying to help them, and do not appreciate being talked to like that. If they continue, offer to transfer the call to your manager. If they still won’t stop and refuse to be transferred, our final bit of advice is to politely tell them that you are going to disconnect the call, but they can call back once they’ve cooled down.

Angry Caller: Ask for Refund

Quit/Wants Refund: “I’m quitting and I want a FULL refund!”

Often times customers will threaten to quit or cancel service because they think it will help get them what they want.  Sometimes customers just want you to be able to do things for them that simply can’t be done, and in those times it may just be better to part ways. Here’s how we handle those situations:

Figure out how to save them: If a customer is threatening to cancel because someone made a mistake or there have been errors, they can usually be saved by assuring them their issues will be looked into and addressed. To go the extra mile, you can try offering to give them a courtesy credit for the mishap. However, if a customer is threatening to cancel because they want you to do something your business simply doesn’t do, then you may just want to say something like “I’m sorry we are not able to do that, but we understand you have to do what’s best for your business. Would you like me to cancel out your account?” If they demand a refund, let them know that you will escalate their case over to a manager who will determine if a refund is applicable or not.

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