Top Call Center Tactics for Handling Stressed Out Callers

The Art of Thick-Skin
For inbound call center agents, angry, hostile callers are a fact of life. Front line agents are unanimous in their verdict – stressed out callers are nerve-racking! 

They also contribute to the high agent turnover common to call centers.


On the other hand, the customer is always right – even if their words (or volume) are not…right? 

So how do you handle difficult callers?

  1. You Are the Face of the Company
    The caller is frustrated, angry and lashing out. In their eyes, the front line agents are the face of the Company.
  2. Listen to the Caller
    Listen more than talk. Choose a calm tone to match the customer’s emotional state.
  3. Don’t be a Robot
    Be empathetic. Whatever the issue, it’s a major source of frustration for the customer. Be understanding and compassionate, and remember: the customer likely feels they are investing a lot of time into this – which is another source of frustration for them.
  4. Stay Polite & Helpful
    Keep your anger under control, and don’t ever hang up on a customer! However, there are typically call center policies on when ending a call may be acceptable (there’s a pretty clear line between difficult, upset callers and those who launch into sexist, racist or threatening outbursts).
  5. It Isn’t Personal…
    Keep your own frustration in check! Try explaining your position to them in a different way, or keep looking for a reasonable solution that meets the customer’s needs.  

  6. …but if it Becomes Personal, Pass the Call.
    If it does get personal on the call, hand it off to a fellow rep or supervisor who can try a different approach to diffuse the situation. Sometimes, just the feeling that they have progressed through the system to another agent improves cooperation with frustrated callers.
  7. Finally, Take a Deep Breath.
    It’s over! They aren’t fun, but angry customers are a fact of life in the business world. Be sure to find ways that work for you to control stress and maintain your sanity.