Expert Tips for Managing a Frustrated Caller

By Shauna Geraghty

0 min read

frustrated caller

As a call center representative, every once in a while you will encounter one of those callers who seems absolutely unreasonable. They’re angry, they’re at their wit’s end and they’re screaming at you. They want results and they want them now. As a call center representative, it can be very stressful to handle these calls. Usually the issue that they’re upset about isn’t your fault.

You didn’t cause a late delivery arrival or break the product they’re calling about. But what you need to remember is that, even though you didn’t personally make those mistakes, you do represent the company that did. That’s why the angriest of callers often take out that aggression on whoever happens to pick up the phone. Because you are the face of the company, how you manage these frustrated callers matters a great deal. While each and every frustrated caller is different, below are handy tips and tricks for managing a few very difficult scenarios.

Situation 1: The caller is yelling at you

With frustrated callers, it often doesn’t matter what type of solution you offer. Often, these callers just want someone to vent to. They want to yell and express their frustration to the first person who picked up the phone and, today must not be your lucky day, because that person is you. First of all, don’t take it personally. They would have reacted the exact same way no matter who had picked up the phone. Whatever you do, remain calm. Try your best not to be moved emotionally by this person.

Listen to them explain the problem and then repeat the problem back to them so that they understand. Apologize and promise that you will do everything in your power to make it up to them. Then, proceed through your troubleshooting steps like you would for any other caller. If the customer refuses to calm down, it’s OK. Just keep moving through the steps. If they refuse to stop ranting, however, you may have an issue because you can’t move forward until they finish. If this is the case, try to cut them off as politely as possible and move ahead. If this still isn’t working, ask if you can put them on hold briefly while you check some information. This will give you a chance to move forward with the process while they have a moment to cool down.

Situation 2: The customer is threatening you

When it comes to angry customers, threats can come in all forms. The most common one is threatening to take their business elsewhere. As a customer support rep, it’s your job to do everything in your power to prevent this from happening. As you know, customer retention is vital to a business’ profits and reputation, so keeping customers as loyal as possible is always the goal.

If you have a frustrated caller on the other end of the line who is threatening to leave, is there a way that you can first solve their problem and then offer them a little something extra for their trouble? Maybe it’s a free gift or a discount on their next purchase. Or maybe you can refund them for the cost of the purchase or service they’re upset about. No matter what the perk is, offer the solution first. They’ll likely have calmed down a bit at this point. Then, offer the bonus compensation. The hope is that this will move them to the other end of the emotion spectrum because they’ll be so happy with the extra surprise.

If the customer is threatening you or the company personally however, this should not be dealt with in the same way. It’s very rare that a customer gets so worked up that they personally threaten an agent or other worker in the company, but it does happen. If it does, you do not have to put up with it. Put them on hold and involve a manager or higher-up to help you out. It’s up to the team to decide how to proceed.

Situation 3: The customer is crying

Sometimes callers get so fed up and frustrated that they burst into tears. When you encounter a crying customer, it’s most important that you remain cool and collected. A crying caller is already at the end of his or her emotional rope. Feeding them any type of emotion back will only fuel the fire.

Let them cry and remain sympathetic, but not overly so. Give them a moment to cool down and proceed to go through the process like you would with any other caller. A crying, angry customer is often easier to pacify than a furious one, but they can also be slightly awkward to deal with. Just keep this in mind and power through. Odds are they’re just as uncomfortable as you are.

After dealing with any of these angry or frustrated customers, it’s OK to take a moment for yourself. You don’t want to proceed through the rest of your day, dealing with other upset callers, until you’re in a stable place yourself. Instead, you need to deal with the stress of the angry customer. Walk away for a moment if possible and take a short break. Maybe grab a glass of water or run to the restroom. You don’t want to dwell on the incredibly stressful situation you just dealt with. So try your best to take deep breaths, calm yourself down and shrug it off. It’s all part of the job.

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Shauna Geraghty

As the first U.S. employee, Shauna helped to scale Talkdesk to over 1,000 employees in 7 offices globally. During her tenure, she has built Talkdesk's Marketing, Talent and HR functions from the ground up. Shauna has a doctorate in clinical psychology and has applied foundational knowledge from the field of psychology to help propel Talkdesk along its hyper-growth trajectory.