“I’ve had enough of you… Fix my problem now! … I demand to speak to your superior…” Every call center agent will have to deal with an unreasonable customer at some point. The big question is: how should they deal with difficult callers without putting your good reputation on the line?

Well, depending on what type of call center you have, you could try the following phrases to make the conversation a bit easier for your agents.

The shouting caller

This caller is clearly frustrated about something – perhaps her package never arrived, but the money was taken out of her account. Perhaps she received the wrong tickets for the big event next month for which she paid a fortune. Or maybe there’s a problem with her newly bought iPhone that she does just not know how to deal with.

What to say:

The only thing your agent cannot do in this situation is to get angry himself. He has to remember that the criticism is not to be taken personally. Instead, your agent can use these phrases:

“I’m trying to help you, but it’s very difficult when you keep shouting at me. I would like it if we could keep this conversation in a calm manner. Is that OK with you?”

“I am talking to you very calmly, I would appreciate it if you could do the same”

“I understand why you are frustrated, but shouting won’t fix the problem.”

“I’m sorry, but I need you to stop yelling. I really want to help you but it is difficult to find a solution when you’re using that tone with me.”

“I will have to ask you to lower your voice or call back in ten minutes when you have calmed down. I want to help you but I don’t want to be shouted at. I can’t help you if you shout.”

The authority questioning caller

This caller will keep demanding to talk to an authority and will not accept that your agent is the person he needs to speak to. Perhaps he has had a bad customer service experience in the past from other call center agents and does not want to be treated badly again. He now has the idea that your agent is not qualified to help him.

What to say:

The best approach is for your agent to tell him that he definitely is qualified to help and very politely state that it is not possible to talk to anyone else:

“Sir, my job is to help you. So, you can just talk to me, that’s what I’m here for.”

“Well, I’m here to help you, so if you let me, I can do that.”

“I’m sorry you feel you have to talk to someone else, but my job is to help you fix this problem. So that’s what I am going to do if you just let me.”

“I can’t put you through to my supervisor as I am here to help you. I know how to fix this problem.”

Read more: 4 Survival Tips Every Call Center Manager Needs to Know

The rambling caller 

Some callers have hundreds of questions and want them all answered in one go. They are not rude, shouting or demanding – they simply can’t stop talking.

What to say:

As there are other people on the line and the hold time can cost you precious time and money, your agents need to politely end the conversation, leading the caller towards the hang-up button.

“One more thing before we end our conversation…”

“Great. So, I will send you an email when the problem has been fixed.”

“Well, I don’t want to take up anymore of your time…”

“So, everything will be sorted out, and I will get back to you when…”

The refund demanding caller

Sometimes, there is a good reason to do a refund. The difficulties arise when the caller demands a refund due to his or her own mistake – e.g. in case she dropped the iPhone in the sink, the vase fell on the floor or the shoes are not the right color red after all.

What to say:

The refund policy should be stated clearly in your terms and conditions section and if the caller’s inquiry doesn’t fall within that, you simply can’t do a refun.  Perhaps you can offer her something else to lighten the mood instead – a discount voucher for example.

“I understand you are frustrated about this and I’m sorry. However, we can’ take responsibility for that.”

“I’m sorry but that is not a part of our policy.”

“I’m so sorry to sound a bit blunt here, but the refund policies are clearly written in the letter. I can explain the policies to you if you need me to.”

“As I said before, I can’t give you a refund, but what I can do is…”

What other types of callers have you experienced – and how did you handle them?

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Lisa Andersen
Lisa Andersen Content Editor
Part of Planday’s content team in Copenhagen, Lisa is into yoga and loves good writing. Her experience includes working with communication and PR for international grassroots organizations in Argentina and Bolivia.