Priorities When A Customer Attacks Verbally

Brief Description/Purpose

To highlight there is a sequence of actions a customer service rep needs to follow when dealing with an angry customer. This exercise is one I've used as an icebreaker, too, for defusing angry customers seminars.


Whole Group, Demonstration

Age Appropriate


Ideal Group Size

4-50 people

Time For Exercise

15 minutes


Defusing Angry Customers 

Detailed Instructions If Needed

  • Ask for a volunteer to play the role of an angry customer. Usually I ask for someone who enjoys being theatrical or with an interest in acting.
  • Provide the volunteer with a little background about why they are angry (i.e. their cable is broken and they are getting a runaround).
  • Tell the volunteer to act very angry, and improvise a conversation. The facilitators job is to talk with the customer but not necessarily to defuse.
  • The idea is for the group to see this onslaught from the customer, and what the "employee does" is largely irrelevant.

Ask the following questions after the demonstration:

If you were the person being “attacked”, what would be your first goal

What would be next in terms of importance?

And then what?

Additional Information if Available

The correct answers are:

  • Maintain self-control
  • Get the offensive behavior to stop
  • Guide the employee into working constructively with you via getting and giving information.

There may be other "right answers" depending on the model of defusing you are using.

These are the essence of the CARP MODEL I explain in the seminar and in my books on defusing angry and hostile customers.