Mastering the Art of Assertiveness: Winning Over Angry Customers with Confidence

how to handle difficult customers


In this video, I'll show you how to assert yourself with your approach and your vocal tone, so customers take you seriously and accept your word as final. 

Assertiveness is to:

Say what you mean.

Mean what you say.

Don't be mean when you say it.


Assertive Tone

It's important that customers take you seriously when you're trying to make your words final; otherwise, they'll go right over you. I want you to speak not only with assertive words, but with an assertive tone.


Bring up all your confidence and let it come out in your tone.

Imagine you're standing with a toddler near a street, and you need to keep them from running into the street. You have three options for how you keep the child out of the street: 



"Jimmy, honey, I was hoping you wouldn't go in the street."


"Jimmy, get your a$$ back here now!"


"Jimmy…stay where I can see you; do not go into the street."


The passive approach probably won't work. An aggressive approach might keep Jimmy out of the street, but it's too much. Assertiveness is right there in the middle. 


Notice both the assertive words and the assertive tone of voice.: 


"Jimmy…stay where I can see you; do not go into the street." That assertive tone is what I want you to use with your customers when you give bad news and when you want them to accept your word as final.


Here are some examples of giving bad news to customers with assertive words and an assertive tone:


"The State of Texas does not let us renew licenses for any agent until all fees and penalties have been paid."


"We cannot refill your expired contact lens prescription. The FDA regulates us, and the FDA does not allow us to refill expired contact lenses. To purchase contact lenses, you must see an optometrist annually. Can I schedule an appointment for you now, or do you prefer to call us back?"


 "I agree that we need someone to look at your lawn quickly. Regrettably, all our Technicians and Managers are out serving other customers now, and the schedule for the remainder of the day is full. We can book a technician for you tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. Will that work?"

Assertive people are taken seriously, foster trust, and are more likely to have their words accepted as final.


For more help getting angry customers to back down,  check out my LinkedIn Learning Course: De-escalation for Customer Service.

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

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