Vocabulary For Dealing With An Irate Customer - Sample 1

It’s not easy to deal with someone shouting angrily at you over the phone (and it’s even worse when they are standing right in front of you). On this page, you will find a sample script, putting you in the middle of a phone conversation between a Customer Care agent and an irate (angry) customer. A customer’s account has been hacked and she has called the phone company to complain.

You will see as you read through the script that we pause at regular intervals to analyse the conversation, consider the language used, and offer some alternatives to help you build your vocabulary.


Conversation Extract

Agent: Certainly, Madam. Can I get your name, please?

Customer: I just entered my account number! You should know my name! Is it not on your screen?

Agent: There is a name here, Madam, but for security reasons, I will need to verify that you are in fact the account holder. I will need your full name, your email address, and your account number.

Customer: Why do you need my account number again? I told you I just entered it on my phone. It’s the reason I was put in touch with you. This is ridiculous!

Agent: It may seem a little convoluted, Madam, yes, but I’m afraid I’m required under law to verify the identity of the person I’m speaking to before proceeding. This is for your protection.

Customer: My protection? You weren’t bothered about my protection when someone was hacking into my social media accounts, were you? I thought these new phones were supposed to stop that from happening.

Agent: I’m very sorry to hear about this, Madam. As soon as I verify that you are the account holder, I can try to resolve the issue.



  • Keep in mind that by the time a Customer calls, they may already be angered by their situation, and dealing with Customer Care adds another layer of frustration. You may think they want you to be a mind-reader, but all a Customer wants is to have their problem solved. You just need to convince them you can solve it. The Agent clearly needs to let the Customer see that she is holding up the process, but he needs to do this respectfully and politely. The last thing you want to do in these situations is blame the Customer.

  • As soon as I verify that you are the account holder, I can try to resolve the issue.” The bold text shows the relationship between these two parts of speech, where ‘I can’ is a conditional based on the probability (or expectation) of ‘as soon as I’. Visit our Conditionals page for more.


“Can I get your name, please?”

Suggested Alternatives

+ Options

  • Would you mind…

  • …if I got your name?

  • …if I got the name on the account?

  • …giving* me your name?

  • …providing your name?

  • …confirming the name on the account?

*Sometimes, using ‘give me’ or ‘giving me’ can be construed as rude or abrupt. We suggest an alternative.

  • Would it be possible to…

  • …get your name?

  • …get the name on the account, please?

  • Could you please…

  • …provide me with the name on the account?

  • …confirm the name on the account?


“I will need (to)…(verify)…”

Suggested Alternatives

+ Options

  • I’m required to…

  • …check that I’m speaking with the account holder

  • …confirm the identity of the account holder (first/before going any further)

  • I’m afraid I have to…

  • The company* has asked us to…

*Sometimes, shifting the blame to the company doesn’t always have the desired effect. You are a representative of the company, but you can maintain a direct connection with the customer by remaining aloof from its control.

  • …identify the account holder prior to discussing any specific details

  • …confirm that we are speaking to the right person before moving forward


“It may seem a little convoluted,…”

Suggested Alternatives

+ Options

  • “I understand that it seems unnecessary complicated…”

  • …but it’s part of the process

  • …but GDPR regulations require that I confirm/check…”

  • I appreciate how frustrating it must be…

  • …but these are the steps we need to take to ensure the protection of your data

  • …but I’m required to… (see below)


“I’m afraid I’m required (to)…”

Suggested Alternatives

+ Options

  • It’s part of my job…

  • …to ensure that…

  • The company* requires us to…

See note in previous table about shifting blame to the company.

  • …check/confirm…

  • …comply with GDPR legislation

  • There is a clear procedure I’m required to follow

  • …in order to…

  • …before I…


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