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Are Customer Service Representatives Allowed To Be Angry At Clients?

Updated on July 16, 2012
jpcmc profile image

I'm a dad, husband, and Christian first. The rest is just life's add-ons: an educator, administrator, learning & development professional.


Your attitude determines your actions

Who thinks it’s ok to be angry at a customer? This is one of the most common questions I ask during customer service trainings. A few meekly raise their hands to answer the question. Others shake their head while the rest gives me a blank stare. The truth is I’m more perplexed at what’s going on in the minds of those with blank stares. Are they ticking time bombs that I need to defuse? Or are they too slow in processing a question given to them? Here’s another truth: I can’t stop you from feeling angry at your customer. Experiencing such an emotion is hot-wired into our system. However, I expect all customer service representatives to conduct themselves professionally in spite of this strong emotion. It’s no easy task to remain calm and composed while the person in front of you berates you. But that’s the life of a customer service representative.

Tongue lashing

When I asked my participants who have been cussed and cursed by customers it never fails that almost all will raise their hands. What’s even more amazing is that they raise it with pride. It’s like a rite of passage every customer service representative has to go through. Sooner or later, we will face a client that cannot be satisfied. We will face a client that needs to vent out his/her anger. We will face a client that will question our very existence.

How to deal with verbal assault:

  • Focus on facts rather than emotional outbursts
  • Maintain a calm and composed demeanor
  • Clarify information to provide immediate feedback or action
  • Focus on how to resolve the issue and not on the hurtful words


Have you been cussed and cursed by a client?

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Have you been physically assaulted by a client?

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Act of war

For a select few, the verbal assault is just the prelude. I know many customer service representatives who were physically assaulted by the clients. There are few who were even challenged by the customer to slug it out outside the store. Good thing, the dueling pistols were locked up the previous year. Clients can get physically aggressive. When this happens, expect to receive some blows and some level of pain. The implement of pain varies from umbrellas, bags (of varying designs and brands), plastic chairs, store merchandize, cell phones and the all-time favorites – hair pulling or slapping.

No matter how much we want to retaliate with an equal fury, resist the overwhelming urge to decapitate the client. But this does not mean you simply stand idly and take the blows with a smile. Darn, that would be a sight. Instead protect yourself without inflicting harm to your clients. What?! Yes, you can’t summon the spirit of Bruce Lee to help you kick some customer tushy. The right attitude is your best defense against such an encounter!

Some strategies for physical assault:

  • Move back
  • Put distance between you and the client
  • Shield yourself from the blows
  • Get behind the counter
  • Ask assistance from co-workers or security personnel

Vent out

Obviously ranting or breaking out in tears in front of clients is not a good idea. If you must belch out your emotions, do it in the backroom or somewhere clients can hear or see you. The company needs to have a way for employees to vent out their anger or bottled up emotions. If not, you might have an epidemic of employees dropping down because of heart attack.

How employers can help:

  • Allow employees to vent out after the incident. Talking with the employee and simply letting the person release the anger is a good idea.
  • Not reprimanding employees in front of guests will help
  • Group and peer talks
  • Make a stress management program for employees

Learning from the experience

Anger is an emotion present in all of us. But it is imperative that we take considerable care in unleashing this anger in public especially during client confrontations. It takes a lot of self-control but taming yourself while handling an aggressive and rude client. Ask yourself the following questions after such an encounter:

  • How can I address the situation differently?
  • How else could I have helped the client?
  • What mitigation strategies could I have employed?

Remember that this might not be the last irate customer you will encounter. Whatever learning you can take from this experience will definitely help you deal with the next furious customer. Build your character and improve your customer service attitude.


What's you worse encounter with a customer?

Share it in the comments area. I want to know who has the worst customer experience.

Knowledge and skills are esential tools

Handling irate customers takes a great deal of patience and self control. Even the simple act of listening to angry customers require a special attention. How to Listen to Angry Clients: The Secret Listening Skills of Customer Service Representatives provides you with strategies on how to listen to angry clients so you can provide better ervice.

The right mindset is without question essential when dealing with angry client. Unfortunately, not every knows the right Customer Service Mindset When Facing Angry Customers. Learn it and become better at handling angry clients.

Ultimately, every customer service representative must know how to retain patrons. Without them, business will suffer. When you know why customers leave, you can solve the problem. Poor Customer Service: The Single Most Important Reason Why Customers Leave

Other essential customer service information:


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    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 3 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello there Pico Triano

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the topic. It is imperative we recognize that we all have rights - customers and customer service representatives. I teach sales representatives self defense techniques when faced with physically aggressive customers. As much as we want to provide a civil and productive service, some customers are just unable to control themselves.

    • Pico Triano profile image

      John 3 years ago from New Brunswick, Canada

      If a customer tries to physically abuse you in any way you have the right to defend yourself. If a customer would physically assault me in any way I would call the authorities and press charges. That cannot be tolerated.

      A lot of places no longer tolerate verbal abuse either. Hospitals for example in my area have signs advising that if you get verbally abusive with staff they will not serve you and will have security or the police remove you from the premises.

      I agree with not getting angry but our society tolerates way to much abuse especially of customer service people.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 3 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Thanks social thoughts, I'm in the process of reviewing my hubs and redoing some.

    • social thoughts profile image

      social thoughts 3 years ago from New Jersey

      What a well-written article! You have some very small typos you may want to go back to perfect; otherwise this is lovely! Keep up the good work!

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello greeneryday,

      That is so true. Bad news easily spread. Plus the fact that social media can reach more people now, the 10 persons can easily explode to hundreds.

      There will always be difficult and angry customers. It's important to learn how to deal with emotionally charged clients properly. Thanks for the comments. See you around.

    • greeneryday profile image

      greeneryday 5 years ago from Some tropical country

      Some marketing experts always say " One disappointed customer will spread the news on how bad you serve or perform to at least ten or more people" on the other hand "Ten happy customers, probably not going to share that they been treated right"

      So I think it is best to choose words and control our emotion when dealing with difficult customers. Thanks!

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello addingsense,

      Call center is not for everyone. It can really be challenging.

    • addingsense profile image

      Akhil S Kumar 5 years ago from kerala

      i did a one month at call center. Not a good experience at all.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello ahmed.b,

      All customers want to be treated properly. In fact, poor customer service is the primary reason why clients leave. Thanks for sharing your insights. The vote up is also appreciated.

    • ahmed.b profile image

      ahmed.b 5 years ago from Sweden

      Nice advice for those how interact with public, have no part in making the product but still facing some angry customers. From a customer prospective however, I want to add that, from two equally good brands, I would like to choose where I think I will be listened more. Nice hub and voted up

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi annerivendell,

      I do hope you help we spread the proper way of dealing with angry customers. No mone wants to be treated unfairly - even angry customers.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello kababayan prea,

      If you're in constant contact with angry customers you may want to shift to squeezing a basketball instead.

    • annerivendell profile image

      annerivendell 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Fantastic advice, should be compulsory reading for anyone working with the public.

    • prea profile image

      prea 5 years ago from Philippines

      true. i need a stress ball to squeeze away my frustrations afterwards.