How to Deal With Rude Customers

If you work in customer service, the chances are good that you’re going to deal with rude customers. In fact, you might have to handle rude customers on a daily basis. It’s a difficult part of the job and one that could hurt your job satisfaction if you don’t know how to deal with these customers correctly. It helps to remember that most customers have nothing against you and are simply trying to communicate their dissatisfaction with their situation. Luckily, there are steps you can take to defuse tense situations with rude customers and make everyone happy.

Remain Calm and Positive

The first step in dealing with a rude customer is to keep your own feelings calm and positive. If a customer is angry and yelling at you, you’ll only escalate the problem by responding in a similar manner. While it’s difficult to keep your emotions under control in a situation like this, it will make it easier to come up with a solution if you can. Also, don’t forget how important tone and body language are, even if you’re on the phone.

Studies have shown that people can detect when another person is smiling on the other end of the phone because it changes the inflection and tone of voice. Therefore, as hard as it is, try to keep a smile on at all times. If you’re dealing with a rude customer face-to-face, watch your body language. You need to maintain eye contact but not stare, sit or stand up straight, keep your arms uncrossed, keep your hands open, and occasionally nod your head. This shows that you’re calm, listening, and ready to help with their problem.

Remember Their Name

Whether you’re dealing with a brand-new customer or someone who has worked with your company for years, it helps to interject their name into the conversation. There’s a big difference between saying, “I’m sorry, sir,” and, “I’m sorry, Mr. Jones.” The first feels cold and impersonal, while the second acknowledges that you’re speaking to a real person. If you have a relaxed environment or you’ve known the customer for a long time, you can even use their first name to help calm the situation.


Although your rude customer ultimately wants a solution to his problem, the first thing he wants to do is vent. Therefore, the best thing you can do is listen. While you want to refrain from interrupting, you also want to ask leading questions to get the information you need to solve their problem. When he’s done talking, summarize what you heard and ask any other questions you might have so that you can begin to work on a solution.


Usually, your rude customer isn’t personally angry at you, but rather he’s upset about a bad product or experience. In these cases, it helps not to take the conversation personally. Instead, offer some empathy to your customer. You can make a statement as simple as, “I understand why this frustrates you. I would feel the same way.” Now your customer feels like he’s being heard and understood.

Offer an Apology

It doesn’t matter if the situation isn’t your fault or the complaint seems trivial, the customer is still upset, and an apology can go a long way toward soothing that anger. Apologizing to a customer shows that his concerns were heard and validated. Often, all you need is a simple and straightforward apology: “I’m sorry you’re not happy with our service/product. Let’s work together to make things right.” With a statement as calm and neutral as that, you can begin to soothe nerves and move toward a solution.

Find a Solution

After you’ve listened to your customer, you should understand why he’s upset and be ready to offer a solution to the problem. This is an important step because if you can’t come up with a solution, your customer is just going to get upset again.

You can either offer your own realistic and fair answer to the problem or you can ask your customer what he would like you to do. If you don’t think you have the power to make the problem right, don’t hesitate to reach out to your supervisor. In many cases, a quick solution is all your customer is looking for, and he will be immediately satisfied.

Also, make sure you know your company’s policy for dealing with bad service or defective products. Often, there’s a set way to handle refunds or replacements that involves little confusion for everyone. This can give your customer a fast resolution and minimize stress for everyone involved, which makes the difficult situation end quickly.

Keep Notes

When you’re dealing with a rude customer, keep notes about what upset him and what actions you needed to take to solve the problem. You can then use these notes to address issues with products or services that frequently occur to eliminate complaints before they even have a chance to happen. You can also use these notes as a guideline for what to do the next time you have a rude customer with the same issue.

Take a Quick Break

The final step in dealing with a rude customer is taking care of yourself. Resolving these situations can be a highly stressful situation, even if you were completely professional and were able to solve the problem. That’s why it’s important to a take a small break when it’s over.

Instead of letting the stress linger inside of you, you can take a break to get a snack, go for a quick walk outside for a few minutes, or find a coworker you can talk to. It doesn’t matter what you decide to do, as long as you’re able to come back to your job ready to engage and interact with your customers again.

Although no one likes dealing with rude customers, it does happen from time to time. However, if you follow these tips, you can help defuse the situation and come up with a solution that makes everyone happy.