5 Comebacks for the Customer Who Tries to Intimidate You

customer service de-escalation de-escalation how to handle difficult customers
Some people use bait tactics to try to get what they want. They'll say something to get you to react. They're trying to take your power so that they're in control.

A lot of the time, when a customer uses profanity or yells, they're baiting you. They have the upper hand if they can throw you off, get you emotional, or frustrate you. They want you upset. They want you to give in. Because, then, they think they'll have a better chance of getting what they want. Even if they don't get what they want, they've felt a sense of power from their rant.


When a situation escalates to the point of the customer yelling or cursing, you have two objectives. You must assertively set boundaries for what you won't tolerate and immediately regain control. 

I sat down with a team of skillful Escalation Agents, and I asked them, "What's your best response to the customer who uses profanity, yells at you, or cuts you off?"

As they talked, I took notes. I walked away with five comebacks for the customer who tried to intimidate and bait using words or volume. 

The group gave me these specific phrases:


One. "I'm trying to help you, but if you continue to yell and swear, I will ask that you call back another time. It's up to you."


Two. "I'm sorry. It isn't possible to help while listening to that language. If it stops, I can help."


Three. "If a few minutes help you calm down before we continue, that would be okay. You can certainly call us back."

Four. One person shared, "You have to sound confident and solid. They smell weakness and run right over you if you don't."

Five. At one point in the conversation, someone said - and every single person agreed with this - "Don't be a doormat. Don't let customers disrespect you. Address unacceptable attitudes head-on. Otherwise, you've lost control, and the interaction will only go downhill."

That's excellent advice. You get the behavior you tolerate. So don't let customers walk all over you. Assert yourself respectfully, and work to regain control.

Need more help with De-escalating?

In my De-escalating Intense Interactions course for LinkedIn LearningI'll show you how to choose words that create calm with an upset customer. I'll walk you through how to reframe conversations so customers don't get worked up while venting. And I'll teach you how to handle a customer who yells or uses profanity.


So join me in this LinkedIn Learning course and learn how to de-escalate intense situations with your customers.

Check Out Our Most Popular Training - De-escalation Academy!

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