Home Professionalisms Handling Irate Customers

Handling Irate Customers


by John Tschohl, author of “Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service

No matter how good you are at what you do, what business you’re in or where it is located, at some point you will find yourself facing an irate customer. When dealing with an irate customer, most employees want to turn and run – but this is actually a great opportunity to win a customer over for life if you know how to take control of the situation.

Follow these steps to defuse any situation involving an irate customer:

  • Listen carefully and with interest to what the customer is telling you.
  • Apologize without laying blame, regardless of who is at fault.
  • Put yourself in the customer’s place, and respond in a way that shows you care about his or her concerns. Use phrases such as, “I understand that must be upsetting,” or “I don’t blame you for being upset; I would feel the same way.”
  • Ask pertinent questions in a caring, concerned manner, and actively listen to the answers.
  • Suggest one or more alternatives that would address the customer’s concerns.
  • Solve the problem quickly and efficiently, or find someone who can.

Just as important as what you should do, there are four things you should not do:

  • Don’t directly challenge someone who has a complaint and is angry. Even if that customer is wrong, don’t attempt to prove it. Your goal is to solve the problem, not to enter into a debate on the merits of the complaint.
  • Don’t let the conversation wander or get off the topic. Solve the crisis at hand without looking for, and finding, additional problems.
  • Don’t participate in fault finding. Shifting blame doesn’t help anyone.
  • Don’t let your personal feelings get in the way. Stay cool and use courtesy and tact to resolve the situation.

When you successfully handle irate customers and their complaints, you will be rewarded with a satisfied customer.  Regardless what business you’re in, first and foremost you’re in the service business.


John Tschohl is a customer service strategist, has been instructing and motivating employees, managers, supervisors and company CEO’s for 39 years. He is a best-selling author of more than seven books on customer service, including his latest releases Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service and Empowerment: A Way Of Life. He is president of The Service Quality Institute, the global leader in customer service training and development.






  1. Waah! This is not an easy task but
    in business realm, everybody has to deal with it. The root word for handling
    irate customers is “patience”.  Be
    sincere. It’s pretty hard but it’s one way to win a customer’s heart.


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