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The Reality of Offensive Customer Behavior

How to Protect Employees While Preserving the Customer Experience

Shep Hyken interviews Eric Williamson, Chief Marketing Officer of CallMiner. They discuss offensive customer behavior and how companies can help support their agents.

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Top Takeaways:

  • Certain insights from AI and data can be brought down to the call center to help agents improve the customer experience in real time.
  • Abusive behaviors from customers do exist and companies need to be more aware of these harmful interactions.
  • Of the 82 million customer interactions CallMiner examined, just under 50% of those interactions had some form or mention of profanity. Of those that had some form of profanity, almost 87% had profanity throughout the entire duration of the call.
  • Customer experience tends to lead people to be concerned only with the customer and less about the contact center agents providing that experience.
  • Agents are often expected to jump from one call, where a customer uses profanity and exhibits heightened aggression, to another, where the agents are expected to have an upbeat and positive attitude.
  • Research has found that agents typically require about 30-40 minutes to mentally recover from offensive calls with angry customers.
  • When customer service agents experience racist and sexist remarks, it can have an impact on those individuals. At an aggregate scale, impact on the company.
  • Organizations can leverage offensive instances to learn, operationalize a response, and change business processes for the better. This information can help create fairer experiences for everyone.
  • Providing support and loyalty to your employees is just as important as providing support and loyalty to your customers.


“When we think about customer experience, we’re always thinking about the customer and not about the agent’s experience working in the contact center.”

“Call center abuse caused by customers is happening and is something that companies should be more aware of.”

“Companies need to realize just how valuable customer service employees are because they represent the front-line of the brand.”

“An agent that has just experienced customer abuse usually takes 30-40 minutes to mentally recover, yet is expected to move on to the next call with an upbeat and positive attitude.”


Eric Williamson is CallMiner’s Chief Marketing Officer, with more than 20 years of experience in both technology and consumer product marketing. Eric oversees all global marketing functions from brand and events, to demand generation as CMO of CallMiner.

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, New York Times bestselling author, award-winning keynote speaker, and your host of Amazing Business Radio.

This episode of Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken answers the following questions … and more:

  1. How to handle bias and discrimination from customers?
  2. How to act when customers are angry and upset?
  3. What to say when dealing with angry customers?
  4. How to help employees who experience customer abuse?
  5. How to monitor customer interactions in the call or support center?

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