Customer Service Training Should Cover Handling Customer Abuse

Have you ever seen a customer who curses and screams, threatens, bangs the counter and throws things about? I have, and it’s not a pretty sight.

An upset customer is understandable. An abusive customer is unacceptable. Your customer service training should cover this eventuality.

If you encounter an irate customer who threatens, insults or barks foul language, use this approach to calm them.

Start by accentuating your intention to assist: “Sir, I am here to help you. But it’s hard for me to help you if you keep speaking to me that way.”

Try this several times. If they continue berating or attacking you personally, simply say: “I would really like to help you, but I cannot do so when you speak to me this way. If you will calm down, I can help you now. Otherwise, please call me again later.”

If they calm down, help them. If they continue the abuse, put your customer service training to good use and hang up, excuse yourself or walk away. If they become more furious still, call your supervisor (who should repeat the same steps), or security (who will take different steps altogether).

Customer service training should highlight the importance of these skills. Knowing where to draw the line is vital for all employees. No one should have to take abuse simply because “the customer is always right.”

Key Learning Point For Customer Service Training

No service provider should endure ongoing customer abuse. We are in service to help, not get hurt. Defuse abuse with your clarity and commitment to serve. If that works, so can you. If it doesn’t work, get yourself out of the way.

Action Steps For Customer Service Training

Make sure your customer service training thoroughly covers how to defuse abusive customers, and when to call for help. Be sure everyone on your team is committed to preserving the dignity of everyone else, including the customer.


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Copyright, Ron Kaufman. Used with permission. Ron Kaufman is the world’s leading educator and motivator for upgrading customer service and uplifting service culture. He is author of the bestselling “UP! Your Service” books and founder of UP! Your Service. To enjoy more customer service training and service culture articles, visit

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