Records in this category

Dialogue Analysis: Angry Customer Exercise Without Role Playing

Brief Description/Purpose

Another example of using dialogue analysis instead or role playing that has proven successful in my defusing angry customers seminar. Provides an opportunity to PRACTICE MENTALLY the various defusing techniques without stress. It's been shown in research that mental practice can be as effective or more effective than actual practice.


Dialogue Analysis

Age Appropriate

Teens, Adults

Ideal Group Size

Any size if done as individual seat work, or in small groups.

Time For Exercise

20 minutes plus for entire exercise for each "case study"


Defusing angry customers but the technique can be adapted to any training context that currently uses role playing.

Detailed Instructions If Needed

Construct at least one "scenario" or case" in effect a dialogue between two people. In the example below, you can see a worksheet for an angry customer situation. Place is left for participants' answers.

Hand out (or have in work package), a copy of the worksheet.

Ask each participant to analyse the brief interchange and answer each question.

Dialogue #1: Nasty, Swearing Person Who Will NOT Give Up

Setting: This could occur in person or on the phone. Individual visits or calls in with a problem and believes he needs to speak to one specific person. That person is unavailable (either for good reason or not). We enter the dialogue below:

Staff: I’m sorry but I believe Mr. X is not available right now. I’ll connect you to his voice mail, and I’m sure he will call you back. 

Customer: The “effin” hell you will connect me to voice mail. I know your scam. I’ve left a bunch of voice mails and the ***bleep*** can’t be bothered to call me back. I want to speak to him right now.

Staff: (Getting annoyed) Look, he’s not here, so how do you expect to speak to him? And you certainly aren’t going to get anything done here if you use that kind of language. 

Your comment, (good, bad response? Why?)

Suggest what staff member SHOULD have said.

Customer: I pay your godda** salary, and I’ll use whatever language I want. I’m sick and tired of your lies. Not here...not here...I KNOW he’s there, and you’re just lying to protect his sorry a**. Get him and get him now before I call the press and the Mayor, or worse. Got it!

Staff: [now getting frustrated and angry]. Look, you’re making this far more difficult than it has to be. Call back, or leave voice mail. Read my lips. He is not here.

Your comment, (good, bad response? Why?)

Suggest what staff member SHOULD have said.

Debrief The Exercise

If done as individual seat work, get responses from participants. Encourage dialogue between participants by asking the opinion of others about someone's suggestions.

Pull out key points that tie in to your course goals. In this example, one of the key points is the importance of self-control.

The fun thing about this is that it DOES allow for sneaking in role plays during the debrief. With participants who seem willing, I invite them to demonstrate their preferred techniques for the scenario.

Additional Information

For more exercises like this check out The Defusing Hostile Customers Workbook which is a self- instructional text that uses many of the techniques used in my live seminars for defusing. 

The book is also available at amazon here: Defusing Hostile Customers Workbook (Third Edition2010): A Self-Instructional Workbook For Public Sector Employees