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Seb Anthony

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Dealing with difficult customers and handling conflict!


Hello fellow members,

does anyone have any information on dealing with difficult customers and handling conflict?

I am putting together a course for some call centre staff who occasionally deal with conflict on the telephone so any information you can provide me with would be great! Thanks
Antoinette Elaro

3 Responses

  1. Some Ideas For You
    Hi Antoinette

    This is an excerpt from an article I wrote on handling conflict at work, but much of it is just as relevant when dealing with difficult customers. I hope this helps.

    1.Think before you speak. The words that come out may not be rational and may fuel bad feeling. Take a few deep breaths pushing out the abdomen (to release tension) and try to maintain a calm manner rather than rising to the situation.

    2.Instead of adopting a “me versus you” mentality, try an “us versus the problem” attitude. This is more professional and is more likely to result in a positive outcome.

    3.Show you are listening and trying to empathise by paraphrasing the other’s point of view in one or two sentences, e.g. “So, as I understand it, you’re saying that…”. This gives them the chance to explain and sets a scene which may help to resolve the situation amicably.

    4. If you need to get back to the customer, make it clear that you have understood the nature of their enquiry, tell them clearly and calmly what you are going to do and give them a time by which you will come back to them. If you are unable to meet that deadline, at least keep them informed of the situation and agree a new deadline with the customer. At least they will remain informed and will trust that you have the situation in hand.

    5.If you need to involve a manager, try to have at least one possible solution ready to suggest that may help resolve the situation. If the problem gets out of control, or becomes too emotional to resolve, ask the manager to become involved as a mediator.

    6. Try to avoid raising your voice. This will be seen as aggressive and is likely to heighten the heat of the argument.

    7.Once the immediate problem is resolved, try to agree internally on what has been learned from the situation and take any necessary action between you, to ensure a repeat of the incident is greatly reduced or completely avoided.

    I hope this helps Antoinette and let me know if I can be of further help.

    Best wishes


  2. Difficult Customers
    You will find a handout: Dealing with Irate People in the ‘Free Resources’ section of my website ( – scroll down to FREE RESOURCES and go into the ‘Customer Service’ section).
    Hope that helps
    Happy Days!


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