How to Handle Angry Customers With Ease


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Angry Girl
Photo by kinkate, CC0 1.0

Sadly, it seems like life gets hectic the older we age and as each year passes. It seems like each and every day we work too hard (and too long) for such little income, resulting in less sleep… and less time with our significant others… which leads to a surge of bottled-up stress.

Some of us don’t know how to properly manage that stress through meditation, dance, or hosting a festive dinner party amongst close friends and a few bottles of fine wine. (I’m partial to Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, personally.)

When you consider that in 2013, an unhappy customer will spread bad news about your business to somewhere between 8-16 people. It’s no surprise that knowing how to handle these stress-soaked consumers is basically a need-to-know skill that needs to be taught in most offices and businesses.

Customer service workers know for a fact that some teed-off customers can be downright cruel. Whether you’re meeting in person, on the phone or on live chat, here are several ways to calm down customers who are about to explode through the roof. Let’s take a look at a few, but extremely handy ways for disarming customers who may soon fly off the handles.

Always Use (And Repeat) Names

One of the quickest ways to diffuse hot-headed people is to realise that they are human. Humans are allowed to blow their tops and express themselves. When all they see is red, it’s hard for them to remember why they’re upset. Angry people are so caught up in the moment, they’re looking for any excuse to smash someone’s skull through a wall. Rationality is gone with the wind.

Bringing angry customers back down to Earth is crucial. Erase the red from their eyes by bringing out their humanity. One of the easiest (and most time-effective) ways to do this is by calling people by their name.

This method is revolutionary among businesses who see dollar signs instead of helping people solve their problems. Businesses (and their owners) who address their customers by name show those customers that their frustrations are valued, appreciated and that they actually matter.

When was the last time a problem really pressed your button? You picked up a phone and called the company, right? Well, did you meet a human representative right away… or a robot who played bad music?

Emphasising the “We are humans, let’s treat each other like humans” angle is not unprofessional in the least. In fact, many consumers are more important than business owners and CEOs.


Without consumers, that business is headed for the gallows. Ensuring their happiness by addressing their names in times of struggle is a great way to retain their loyalty for a longer amount of time.

On a personal note – I always make a point to look at staff members’ name tags (if visible) and use it as many times as possible in the brief moment we’re in each other’s lives. It was hard for them to hide their soft smile when this happened.

How To Reduce Stress

Stress is anger’s not-quite-dangerous younger brother. In today’s world there is an unhealthy overdose of stress in (what seems to be) most of our lives. Some people lack the proper meditation skills necessary to put themselves in the moment and to relax. Sadly, some of those poor souls may just end up being your customer.

There’s no concrete method of telling what kind of stress is following people around. Although it isn’t far from the mark to suggest that people carry a huge burden on their shoulders:

  • Children (when they’re noisy, whiny and cranky)
  • Electric and water bills
  • Too many hours at the office
  • Overworked and underpaid
  • Unappreciated in the home
  • Unwanted by family members/spouse

And a whole host of situations we can chalk up, unfortunately, to the case of being alive today. I like to think of anger as an evolved form of stress. When we don’t handle stress, and cut it from our lives at the root of the problem, it then evolves into anger. (Which isn’t pretty or healthy for anybody.)

Sometimes, stress finds its way into your life because your customers’ lives are bombarded by stress. They inadvertently “pass the ball” to you. Do not (under any circumstances) panic, leave work prematurely, ignore the customer and ignore the music, etc. Instead, try relieving the stress by encouraging customers to vent.

Doing this is leaps and bounds healthier than commanding them to be silent. Allowing them to liberate themselves, in your company, is a great way to reduce that stress and exercise what’s teeing them off. Additionally, confronting the situation head-on (as objectively as possible) forces both parties to solve the problem there and then – in as objectively a manner as possible.

Don’t Fight Fire With Fire

Least of all, showing aggravation and frustration is not a wise move towards eradicating anger or tense situations. Never take insults or aggression on a personal level. It’s wise to remember that, more often than not, their anger has nothing to do with you.

Their anger is based off their own experiences, not yours. No matter how much fire you see in peoples’ eyes, it’s your responsibility to extinguish that fire – not fan it. One of the smoothest, positive ways to help butt out that fire is to remain cool, calm and collected.

This means not letting their negative energy “intrude” your relaxed, suave-smooth exterior. If you want to pour gasoline on fire, by all means: let their anger penetrate you to the point that you interrupt them (this is a BAD thing to do) and stoop to their level. For example, if you run a car repair shop and your customer is not satisfied with your service, even after you did everything perfectly, then maybe you need to please them by offering some services at discounted price or for free. A one-time free car maintenance or free car cleaning might make them happy. Remember, a happy customer is always a repeat customer and even if you had to shell out few bucks from your pocket first time but there’s always an opportunity to get back all those dues with interest next time. 😊

Another strategy to contain “raging wild” consumers is to address the customers’ emotions. Not feeling like our feelings are validated often amplifies those emotions, whatever they are, into serious extremes. This is not only bad for both business and client, but can ultimately impact the business’ LCV.

Handling fiery customers masterfully requires patience, empathy and a healthy dose of social psychology. By acknowledging peoples’ frustrations, knowing what makes them tick and showing that you understand their emotions… you will effectively “disarm” their tempers. Then we can go back to business as usual and smooth over what the problem is – and how you can solve it today.

Himanshu Agarwal
Himanshu Agarwal is the Founder & CEO of a Digital Marketing firm SmartWeb. He is an online market analyst, startup strategist and a writer. He has written on several topics including content marketing and technology. When not writing or on laptop, he loves spending his time reading inspiration books and watching movies.


  1. As the Customer Relationship Manager at my company, I work with difficult customers on a daily basis. All of the points mentioned here are very valuable, and i’d like to contribute my two cents that may help this forum out.

    At Enclosed, we have developed a webpage that states our core philosophy when it comes to customer service. My team and I are able to solve 99% of the customer issues we come across simply by being empathetic, listening and trying our best to solve issues while still staying true to our company’s values. In our experience, having your clear philosophy outlined and ready to refer back to can help small and medium size businesses like ours. If you are looking for examples on how to make your own, feel free to take a look at ours:


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