How to Handle Customers Using Profanity

As I’ve hinted in the past, I constantly go over statistics. One of the statistics I go over are what people search for and what search terms lead them to Service Untitled. A common question/search term I happen to see is how to handle customers using profanity/ones that are cursing.

Service Untitled has an entire category that talks about dealing with angry, upset, or frustrated customers, entitled simply “Angry Customers.” The first post in the category talked about keeping your enemies closer. The next one (one that I liked a lot), talked about how to deal with angry customers posting on forums. After that, I started a series on handling complaints.

Basically, what I am saying is that you should look over the angry customers category. Click on this link to view it starting from the back.

Now, about how to handle customers that are using profanity, cursing, or whatever you’d like to call it. I wrote briefly about this in an early post about when it is appropriate to hang up on a customer. To repeat what I said then:

If a customer is cursing:

  • Tell the customer that cursing/using profanity will not help solve their problem and that they should calm down.
  • If the customer continues to curse, say if they curse again, you will have to hang up on them and they can call back once they’ve calmed down.
  • If the customer continues to curse, say “I’m sorry, but you’re going to have call back once you’ve calmed down.” and hang up immediately.
  • Describe the situation in the call log and make a note of it in the customer’s account.

That’s a very effective operating procedure. It’s not a script, but general guidelines as to what the representative should do. That way when the customer calls back an hour later, the next representative can be prepared for what may happen (a rude and angry customer) and if the customer service representative isn’t good with those situations, transfer the call to someone else.

Pretty simple, right? It’s not rocket science, but I believe that the procedure outlined above would be fairly effective in most situations. The key(s) are to:

  • Remain calm
  • Communicate with the customer that cursing/profanity won’t help
  • Clearly (and firmly) state that cursing/profanity will make it so that you as a representative will have to hang up if they continue.

You shouldn’t get worked up if the customer is cursing at you. That won’t solve anything and will just get you upset and stressed out more. Don’t raise your voice – just stay calm and act like you normally do. If you can do that, you should be okay.

Also, on a note about Service Untitled, I’ve added a contact page to the site. I realized that having the email address somewhat tucked away on the about page wasn’t entirely clear.

6 Responses to “How to Handle Customers Using Profanity”

  1. Pete Aldin said:

    Mar 24, 07 at 4:15 pm

    That’s great advice, because often the customer service operative feels disempowered (ie., they HAVE to take the abuse). It’s nice to know you don’t.

    Also, I’ve learned that most people can only maintain high anger levels for 2-3 minutes (unless you keep “refereshing it” by annoying behaviour), then they begin to calm down. It’s usually a matter of patiently waiting it out, if you can live with a little profanity in the meantime.

    Just dicovered your blog and love it!

  2. Geetha said:

    Mar 25, 07 at 10:46 am

    Practical & great advise on handling irate customers. In all humility, may I also add this piece of advise – Never take the abuse personally. From my experience, I have learnt to handle irate customers & have managed handling them by understanding that their anger is NOT directed to me but to the issue that they are facing.Hope this helps:)

  3. Handling Angry Customers | LogoDesignWorks said:

    Jun 29, 07 at 3:49 pm

    [...] Sound Money Tips suggest you treat customers as you as you would want to be treated. In case you encounter a cursing customer, immediately tell him or her that cursing will not help solve the problem. More importantly, maintain your respect to your customers no matter how angry they seem to be. [...]

  4. Mancy said:

    Jun 01, 11 at 6:07 am

    I have had a very bad experience last eve. I am looking forward to give a try as stated in the above blog. Hopefully, it would help as I am feeling positive about it. It’s just that sometimes the customer can get such angry that they would not mind to curse till no limits that might just make me lose patience and get me upset.

  5. Palabra said:

    Aug 11, 12 at 10:35 pm

    This is great advice. Remaining calm and getting help from someone else in the company is a good way to let the situation pass without losing your job.

    But… did you ever wonder what would happen if employees DIDN’T just stand there and take it? If, as a general rule, employees were allowed to get angry in return or simply refuse service to that customer FOREVER, is it possible that people might not look at it as their God-given right to demean service people?

  6. Call Center Worker said:

    Oct 27, 12 at 9:06 pm

    It would be nice if we were allowed to hang up on customers that are being excessively rude and using profanity, but where I work, we aren’t allowed to. They don’t pay us as much as people at one of our sister centers who work on the exact same account, but who do less work. It’s maddening!


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