What response would you use in the event a customer starts yelling and cursing at you?

Yesterday I delivered my “Becoming a Customer Service Rockstar” presentation to a wonderful long-time client, the International Contact Center Association (ICCA). During the Q & A segment, an attendee asked,

“What response would you use in the event a customer/client starts yelling and cursing at you?”

That was such a great question that I thought I’d share my response with you.

You don’t have to get frustrated dealing with demanding, irate, or unreasonable customers and you don’t have to put up with verbal abuse and threats from customers. You just need the right tactics, assertiveness, and the right attitude. Here’s how I responded to my attendee’s question yesterday.

Draw the line on yelling and profanity with phrases such as:

▪ “I’m trying to help you, but if you continue to yell and swear, I am going to ask that you call back another time. It’s up to you…which would you prefer?”

▪ “I’m sorry. It isn’t possible to help while listening to that language. If it stops, I can help.”

▪ “If a few minutes helps you calm down before we continue, that would be fine. You can certainly call me back.”

▪ “I want to help you, yet the language is getting in the way.”

Note: Your tone is critically important with the above statements. You must come across calm, neutral, and non-threatening.

These phrases let customers know that you will not tolerate verbal abuse. They give customers the option of “shaping up” or ending the interaction.

For other great tips for handling difficult customers, see my Helpful Phrases For Dealing with Difficult Customers post. It’s packed with 20 phrases, word-for-word, to handle some of your most difficult customer situations. Or join me for my “Stop Screaming at Me” web training event on 11/14/12. In “Stop Screaming at Me” I teach you exactly how to handle difficult customers.

Stop Screaming at Me Webinar 11/14/12 @1pm ET

11 Strategies to Help You Circumvent, Minimize and Eliminate Difficult Behavior

View outline/Register

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Myra Golden is an author, trainer and keynote speaker who has been helping companies for over twenty years to improve the customer experience through her customer service training workshops. Myra has a master’s degree in human relations and a bachelor’s degree in psychology, helping her to understand the challenges of developing the best customer experience as it relates to the psychology of the employees. Myra has helped Verizon Business, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Michelin Tires, Frito-Lay, Vera Bradley and many others improve the customer experience through her training. She was named one of the Top 10 Customer Service Bloggers by Huffington Post and she is the co-author of Beyond WOW!

One thought on “What response would you use in the event a customer starts yelling and cursing at you?

  1. Myra, Thanks for the GREAT advice. I actually have turned it into humor and made them one of my best customers. 1st example I had a client going off the deep end calling me all kinds of names and I said hey have you been talking to my husband? Laughter and then not more cursing. 2nd I had a customer ask who is the dumb MF who does the hiring there and when I replied it was me! Laughter and no more cursing. One is still a customer who still refers clients and I have never had her curse at me again.

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