Dealing With An Abusive Caller

Customer service reps should have the same goal on difficult calls as they have on every other call — to provide the best possible service. And that includes conversations with angry or abusive callers.

In the November issue of Customer Communicator, the training and motivation newsletter for frontline reps, communications consultant Charlotte Purvis suggests how to deal with the abusive caller. But first, she suggests a subtle language change.

Rather than call them “abusive callers,” Purvis prefers to refer to such customers as “callers who use abusive or inappropriate language — so we are focusing on the behavior, and not on the person.”

That’s not to say you have to tolerate the abuse, however. “What you might say is something like this: ’We are not allowed to participate in calls where abusive or inappropriate language is being used,’” says Purvis. “That way, you state the position of your organization, but you are very careful not to reprimand the caller.”

On the other hand, she says, “Don’t say, ’You just used profanity with me, and I don’t appreciate that.’” Again, we don’t want to reprimand the caller, we simply state our position, and in those rare situations where the language continues, we escalate or terminate the call.”

More on handling customers who use abusive language appears in the November issue of Customer Communicator.

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