Upset Customer Calls: How to Deal

Customer Experience Customer Service Small Business
Jan 9, 2020 / 3 min read

It’s virtually impossible to make everyone happy, all the time. While you pride yourself on providing top service in your field, upset customer calls are bound to happen. Details are miscommunicated, mistakes are made, and they may not necessarily be in your control. How you turn around a bad experience makes all the difference, and it’s important to do:

  • A dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience
  • 67% of customer churn could be avoided if the business resolved the customer’s issue during their first interaction
  • 73.8 percent of customers say they’re likely to continue doing business with a brand that resolves their complaints

Difficult or upset customer phone calls may be a lot less fun than calls from happy patrons, but there is always an opportunity to transform a bad client service situation into a positive interaction with your brand. All you have to do is win back the customer and (hopefully) gain their loyalty for the future, too.

Here are some basic rules of thumb to follow to provide top-notch customer service even during the difficult calls.

Don’t Take it to Heart

First and foremost, remember – it’s not personal. No matter how angry a customer sounds and how much it feels like an attack on your business, you shouldn’t follow in their steps. It will only get worse if you harp on negative comments rather than focusing on the issue itself. 

It’s natural to be immediately on the defense when you’re on the receiving end of an angry phone call. Instead of getting worked up, listen for cues about how this happened in the first place and begin formulating your plan. That way, you can remain clear-headed and be prepared to offer a solution that you can both be happy with.

Listen, Listen, Listen

Allow your customer to vent. Never interrupt or speak over them. You’re in this situation because they want to be heard and your role is to hear everything they have to say. 

Only once they finish should you begin to guide the conversation and ask clarifying questions to learn more. The better you listen and the more information you gather, the better and more personalized your solution will be.

Practice Empathy

We’ve all had infuriating experiences with businesses in the past. Have you ever felt like the manager you’re talking to has glazed over and is not at all invested in you as a paying customer? Now think of a time where a business owner or representative took the time to listen and then empathized with how frustrating that scenario must have been for you.

More likely than not, your tone completely changed at that moment. Now you’re open to what they have to say and more willing to cooperate than you were a few minutes ago. That’s the difference between a lost and saved customer.

Remember Your Manners

Being calm and polite may not be your first instinct when you’re being yelled at, but it is the only way to be. The customer is almost always right, after all, and it is in your biggest interest to improve relationships that have gone awry. 

Simple manners can go a long way. Keep these techniques in mind during difficult customer calls:

  • Start by offering a genuine apology to the customer 
  • Smile while you talk – callers can feel a warm, sincere smile through the phone
  • Use the customer’s name for a professional and more personal conversation
  • Speak clearly and with a confident tone

Train Your Staff to Do the Same

As a business owner, you can’t be in multiple places at the same time. It does no good for you to be a customer service superhero when the team member that answers a majority of the phone calls hasn’t had proper training. 

Include customer service training in your new hire onboarding process for anyone who will ever answer the phone. Training is essential to establishing a customer service-minded culture in your business, and although it’s a time investment upfront, it pays major dividends in the long haul.


When you’re presented with an unhappy customer, they should become your number one priority. It’s your chance to turn their day around while also learning about opportunities for improvement in your business.

Remember to not take these things personally. By shifting to your customer service mindset, actively listening, and delivering a personalized solution you can turn an upset customer call into a new customer for life.

Aaron Swain is a writing specialist at Best Writers Online and an editor at Online Writers Rating.