Customer Service Professionals that work at answering services handle calls from angry people every day.

It’s not easy, but the ability to successfully deescalate these calls is essential to a company’s bottom line. In fact, U.S. companies lose about $41 billion each year because of poor customer service. People don’t only share their negative experiences via word-of-mouth. In our digital age, they also post the details online.

If your business is focused on providing excellent customer service, you know all too well how unpleasant some of these situations can be! How do you calm an angry customer down and resolve their problems?

Don’t worry. Below, we’ll go over several ways to deescalate an upset caller.

Remain Calm

1. Remain Calm

When someone is yelling at you, it’s easy to go into fight-or-flight mode. You want to yell back or transfer the call to someone else.

Handling escalated calls well, though, requires an almost Zen-like calm. Take a few deep breaths, and remember the customer is not actually angry at you. Upset callers are usually actually upset about their own problems.

Try to be empathetic, and imagine how you would feel in their situations. You might be surprised to find you’d be angry too!

Don’t Take It Personally

2. Don’t Take It Personally

We know that it can be hard to remain calm and not take it personally when someone is yelling at you on the phone. Even the most battle-tested customer service agent won’t be able to feel good about being screamed at for something that’s not their fault, or was out of their control.

But you need to realize that it really isn’t personal. A frustrated and angry customer probably has a few reasons to feel angry and upset, and they’re trying to vent. Yelling at you won’t make their problem go away, but it may make them feel a bit better.

So try your best to not take angry callers personally. They do not have a problem with you as a person – but with the company you’re representing. Don’t take their anger or rudeness personally.

However, there is a limit to this. For example, if a person is screaming obscenities or slurs or is attacking you personally, talk to your manager or supervisor about what to do. You may be allowed to hang up on the caller or transfer them to a manager or other higher-up in your customer service team.


3. Listen

Angry people usually have a lot to say. By the time they are talking to you, their minds have been swirling around and around, repeatedly going over their issues.

That’s okay. Let them talk.

Your job is to listen. Then, when they are done, reflect back on what they said. Start your sentences with “I hear…” or “I am hearing…”

At this point, you are not trying to solve their problem. You are providing validation which is a crucial first step in diffusing a tense interaction.

Apologize to Deescalate an Upset Caller

4. Apologize to Deescalate an Upset Caller

A sincere apology goes a long way towards calming down an irate customer. An insincere one, on the other hand, will make the situation worse.

The more personalized your apology, the more heartfelt it will appear. Take some of the details from the customer’s complaint, and sprinkle them throughout your apology.

Also, make sure to follow your apology with a specific plan of action. Tell your customer how you are going to begin solving their problem.

Repeat The Information They Caller Is Giving You

5. Repeat The Information They Caller Is Giving You

This is a very helpful “active listening” technique that allows you to ensure the customer feels like they’re being heard, and you’re ready to help them with their problem.

For example, if a customer calls you and is very rude or upset because they were charged for a subscription that they canceled, listen to them carefully – then summarize what they’ve told you. You could say something like:

So, you’re saying that you were charged for your subscription to [SERVICE] even though you canceled it. You would like a refund, and to make sure that your subscription is canceled so you’re not charged again. Is that right?

Repeating their information and asking if you are understanding them properly will give them time to calm down, and reassurance that you really are listening and trying to empathize with their situation.

Whatever You Do, Resist the Urge to Put The Caller on Hold

6. Whatever You Do, Resist the Urge to Put The Caller on Hold

When handling difficult customers at an inbound call center, the absolute worst thing you can do is put them on hold. Nothing is more irritating to an already angry customer than waiting on hold and not knowing what’s going on. Prompt customer service is the very first step in proving an upset caller you’re committed to help him with his problem

If you are researching their problem, talk them through it. Let the customer know exactly what you are doing as you problem-solve. This is one of the best ways to show them you care.

Make the customer an offer

7. Make an Offer

Empathy and apologies are necessary to gain the customer’s trust. But if the phone call ends without anything other than an apology, only 23% of customers are satisfied.

On the other hand, if you offer an incentive such as monetary relief, that figure jumps to 73%. Clearly, the ultimate goal of all calls is either a resolution or some other form of compensation.

If there isn’t a clear solution, consider letting the customer choose which course of action to take. Having choices is calming because it offers a sense of control.

Above all, don’t end the call saying, “Sorry, there’s nothing we can do.” That’s a sure-fire recipe for getting the manager or supervisor involved.

Don't make promises you can't keep

8. Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep

If you have a rude customer screaming in your ear, it’s easy to promise things that you may not be able to deliver – just to get them to calm down, work with you, and stop yelling or being rude. That’s completely understandable.

But it’s a mistake. If you make a promise that you can’t keep, your customer will be even more upset, and that won’t help your situation.

Instead, promise your customer that you will do everything you possibly can to help them – but don’t promise them something you can’t authorize or follow through on.

For example, if they want a refund for a faulty product, and you’re not allowed to approve such a refund, don’t promise them that they will get a refund.

Instead, be honest, and tell them that you will do your best to work with a supervisor to issue them a refund, but you cannot promise anything.

Know When To Get A Manager Involved

9. Know When To Bring In A Manager Or Supervisor

If you can calm a customer down and understand their situation, you probably won’t have to bring in a manager or a supervisor, and you can resolve the problem on your own.

But sometimes, customers may be unwilling to be cooperative, and may repeatedly ask to speak to a manager or supervisor. If this is the case, it’s perfectly acceptable to transfer them to your supervisor, manager, or any other person responsible for handling call escalations.

Or, they may need help that you simply are not authorized to provide, due to a complex situation or a problem you can’t resolve using your own skills or level of authority.

Follow up with the customer after the call

10. Follow Up After The Call

This is a great way to make sure that a customer’s issue has been completely resolved. We recommend following up with a call or an email after the customer has gotten off of the line, and to ask how their experience was, and make sure their issue was resolved.

By following up, you can make it clear that you truly care about how the customer was treated – and you can tell them that you’re willing to help with any further issues they may have.

This is a great way to turn a frustrated consumer into a brand advocate. 52% of people say they have “made an additional purchase” from a company after a great customer service experience.

You can also ask them for feedback about how your customer service team did. According to a study by Microsoft, your brand will be viewed more favorably by 77% of customers if you “proactively invite and accept customer feedback.

Now you have some tips about how to deescalate an upset caller.

Usually, if you remain calm and remember not to take customers’ anger personally, your empathy will help you find solutions to callers’ problems.

If you enjoyed this article, why not check out our blog? We have many topics to choose from, all relating to the answering service industry. There’s bound to be some useful information for you there!

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BONUS: 8 Ways An Answering Service Can Help You Deal With Angry Customers

What better way to start your day than with an angry customer screaming in the phone at you? It can set you off for the rest of the day, if not your whole week.

The best solution for handling angry customer scenarios is to let someone else deal with them, as long as the person who is dealing with them does so properly. Hiring an answering service or virtual assistant to handle your calls is just good business sense.

Angry man holding phone

There are many advantages to using an answering service and dealing with angry customers is definitely one of them. Here we will show you some ways to avoid losing customers because they are upset.

1. They’re a Real Person

The first thing to set an angry customer off is getting an impersonal answering machine or mechanical voice. When people are mad, they really like to shout at people.

The answering service will have a live person to respond to your customer and that may calm them down. Plus, when someone is calling to complain and get an answering machine, they are less likely to call back and may just find a different company.

2. They’re Trained and Experienced

In many cases, the staff at the answering service spend a great deal of their time dealing with angry customers. It is what makes them professional, as they are trained how to deal with customers and say the proper thing to defuse the situation.

They receive professional training to deal with someone who is angry and know what to say to calm them down. The staff has keywords and phrases to use and they go that extra mile to make sure you don’t lose the customer.

3. They Don’t Take It Personally

They are able to remain calm because it is their job to listen to people complain. They know it is not about them, and they understand that people get upset.

They can answer the calls and remain calm while allowing the customer to vent. They are experienced and understand that aspect of the job.

4. They Have Your Information

They will be able to talk to the customer about your business and about their specific complaint. They have all your information for your business and that way the customer doesn’t know they are talking to an answering service.

It makes it more personal, and it is important that the customer feels like they are being heard. If they think they are talking directly to someone at the company, it will help them feel heard and can calm them quickly.

5. After Hours Availability

You can have service around the clock if you need it. It can be very frustrating for customers to have to wait until the next morning to complain about a service or product. The longer the wait, the worse the problem becomes.

Instant satisfaction, even just shouting at someone on the phone can help calm the situation down. If something is needed right away, waiting until morning may well cost you the customer.

6. Keep Complaints to a Minimum

Some people love to complain. Mostly, they don’t mean any harm, they just want to be heard.

When people are upset and feel like they have been let down, they tend to head straight to social media. They start complaining and can start posting bad reviews.

These can cause a lot of damage and spread like wildfire. You have no idea how many potential customers will see this and look elsewhere for their service or products.

Using the answering service will help stop that, and may even turn it all around. The angry customer may not get exactly what they need, but they will be heard and that can really go a long way to avoiding the online bashing and complaints.

7. They’ll Get Back to You

You can receive any and all information you need from these types of calls right away. You can set up a text, a phone call or an email. This way, you can get back to the customer personally and handle the complaint yourself.

It can mean avoiding the loss of a customer and the loss of potential customers by finding out what is going on or if there is a problem that needs to be dealt with right away.

8. There Are Options

The answering service provides options for you and for your customer. Here they are.


Because the person answering your phone has all your business information, they have the opportunity to offer some choices to the customer. They can tell the customer they are sorry that this is happening to them and that is often enough to settle them down.

They can offer a few solutions to the customer to help solve the problem and this way the customer feels like they matter and feel like they have been heard.


You have the option of having your email answered or forwarded, your calls answered and messages sent to you through ways of your choosing and professional, friendly staff to handle your calls when you are too busy.

Angry Customer Scenarios

The truth is that they are always going to exist. You can please everyone but there is no reason to lose customers over a small complaint. Very often, the situation just calls for a calm person on the other end of the phone.

The answering service is very helpful, especially if you are busy trying to run the business. Customers like to be heard and often just getting someone on the phone who will listen is all that is needed.

It’s very frustrating to reach a machine when you really want to vent. Being heard by an actual caring person takes the sting out of the situation. The answering service makes sure that happens, every time.

Keep Them Coming Back

You didn’t start your business to make people upset and of course, you want to handle the situation professionally and expertly. That’s why you need to use an answering service to handle your communications.

You are busy trying to build the company and your customers are that company. Keep them happy and keep them coming back. It’s just a fact of business life that some people will be unhappy, but it doesn’t have to end there.

Please contact us for more information and to talk about how we can best help your business and your customers. You run your business, our business is to handle angry customer scenarios.

Handling an angry call center scenario requires customer service representatives to be patient, empathetic, and skilled at de-escalating the situation.

Angry and disgruntled customers can be challenging to handle, but following the steps to handle angry customers and disgruntled customers appropriately can help prevent customer dissatisfaction and avoid customer escalation that may lead to now outraged users not calling. Remember to watch customer service: handling abusive customers closely to ensure that all customers are handled appropriately.

Customer service representatives should also be aware that angry customers may be dealing with various issues beyond their control, such as personal or financial problems, leading to irate customers. Taking the time to listen actively and empathize with their situation can help deescalate an upset caller and make them feel heard and valued. By handling angry customers and disgruntled customers appropriately, customer service representatives can turn an angry customer scenario into a positive experience for the customer.

In conclusion, handling angry and disgruntled customers can be challenging, but by following the five steps to handle angry customers and disgruntled customers appropriately, customer service representatives can deescalate an upset caller effectively and ensure customer satisfaction. Customer service representatives should also watch customer service: handling abusive customers closely to avoid customer escalation that may lead to now outraged users not calling. Remember to handle angry customers and disgruntled customers with patience and empathy, and take ownership of the issue to find a solution. By doing so, customer service representatives can turn an angry call center scenario into a positive experience for both the customer and the company.

Updated March 15th, 2023

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