How to Diffuse a Negative Situation on the Phone

Jeppe Liisberg
Jeppe LiisbergSeptember 22, 2016

Cold calling can be a wonderful way to reach new customers and interact with an audience you might not otherwise be able to contact. But it can also mean having to communicate with all types of personalities and not having the benefit of a face-to-face interaction where you can better read each other's body language and tone. That means it can sometimes lead to customers getting heated or angry, which is one of the biggest challenges in the customer service industry. If you are involved in customer relationship management and cold calling, here are some of the best ways you can try to diffuse a negative situation on the phone.


The best way to stop a negative situation in its tracks is simply to listen to the customer. Talking over them or trying to get yourself heard (even if you are right!) doesn't ever help matters. If a customer has gotten irritated or irate, chances are they need space to vent their anger, however unwarranted, before they will give you a chance to speak. Give them that time by actively listening to their complaints or opinions while you consider what a possible solution could be.

Avoid Emotional Engagements

When people get angry or upset on the phone, it is just human nature to want to respond with similar emotions. However, it's important to stay level-headed in customer relationship management and recognize that the customer is most likely not mad or angry with you personally but angry at the situation or for being interrupted with a sales call. In fact, it might not have anything to do with you or your company at all. Keep this in mind and don't let your emotions get involved - you can always end the call or bring another staff member in if you feel your temper getting the best of you.

Use a Warm Tone

Humans have many personalities and ways of relating to each other and no one way is proven to be better than all the others. But it is generally a good idea to counter a sharp tone or high volume from a customer with a warm tone and low volume that is filled with calm and patience. If a client senses sharpness, sarcasm or condescension in your voice, the situation can escalate quickly. Instead, master your tone of voice and try to keep a steady voice that communicates warmth and understanding, even in prickly situations.

Apologize When Necessary

Recognize when an actual apology is in order and be prepared to provide it. There are times when something you or your company did might simply be in the wrong and it's good to be able to save face and apologize to a customer or potential customer on behalf of your company.

Be Proactive

Once you understand why a negative situation is happening on the phone, it's time to put your customer relationship management skills to work! You are on the front line and it's time to rectify a situation by addressing exactly what they are upset about and seeing the issue through to the end.

Angry customers can be a difficult aspect of having a customer relationship management job but they are also a very important part of helping your company succeed. If you can successfully diffuse negative situations over the phone, you can sometimes transform an angry person into a customer who is loyal to your company for life!

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Jeppe Liisberg
Written by

Jeppe Liisberg

I'm an entrepreneur and web developer. I've built or helped build a handful of startups.

I strongly believe in dedicated software that solves one task, but solves it really well. During my experience as an internet entrepreneur, I never found that software for cold calling, so that's why I decided to build Myphoner.

I'm very proud of what Myphoner has become, and I'm dedicated to doing everything I can to make it stay a success. That's why I greet all new customers personally and always read and reply to the feedback I get.

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