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Calming Upset Customers

How Leaders, Managers, and Staff Can Stay Effective During Unpleasant Conversations

Shep Hyken interviews Rebecca Morgan, an international speaker, management consultant, and bestselling author. She wrote the bestseller, Calming Upset Customers that sold more than 250,000 copies. They discuss what leaders and managers can do to help customer service staff manage upset customers and avoid issues in the future.

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Top Takeaways:

Are customers more easily upset today than 30 years ago?

People who would have been rational are now less likely to be patient. And people who are not rational or patient, to begin with, now have an even shorter fuse. This can be attributed to many factors including:

  • The last two years have caused more stress than usual.
  • There is a decline in civility, especially on social media.
  • Customers are projecting anger about things that they have no control over to customer service agents.

What can leaders do to help customer service providers manage upset customers?

  1. Be a role model. There are behaviors that leaders need to practice in front of their customers and their employees, such as listening without getting defensive, watching their tone of voice, and being careful with their word choice.
  2. Be willing to fire customers who are repeat offenders. Employees will respect their managers and leaders more when they see that they are willing to let go of abusive customers.
  3. Train staff properly. Invest in training whether online or in-person to equip your staff with the tools to connect with customers, even the ones that are upset.
  4. Don’t throw your staff under the bus. Standing up for your staff is great for morale and loyalty.

In this episode, Rebecca Morgan also talks about what customer service providers do wrong when trying to calm upset customers and what managers should do when their staff gets into an altercation with a customer.


“Customer service representatives should be future-focused. Think of how you can help customers avoid issues in the future.”

“Empathy deflates the customer’s anger significantly, even when it is as simple as acknowledging what the customer is going through.”

“Know that you can’t appease everyone, so learn not to take everything personally when dealing with upset customers.”

“Empower your employees to self-coach. Ask questions like, ‘What would you do differently if you can do it all over again?’”


Rebecca Morgan, CSP, CMC, CVP is an international speaker, management consultant and bestselling author. Two of her 28 books have sold more than 250,000 copies each. She’s appeared on 60 Minutes, Oprah, the Wall Street Journal,, CNBC, National Public Radio and USA Today.

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. Are there more upset customers now than in the past?
  2. How do you deal with an altercation between staff and customers?
  3. What should managers do when a staff has an altercation with a customer?
  4. How can managers and leaders help staff manage upset customers?
  5. What do customer service providers do wrong when trying to calm upset customers?

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