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Anyone working in business will need to deal with an unhappy and dissatisfied client at some time or other and it can be quite a challenge! Knowing what to say can have a real effect on the outcome. The right phrases said in the right way can turn a dissatisfied customer into a satisfied and happy one. It’s important to handle difficult customers professionally and with respectful language, which is why it’s so important to learn the correct business English language phrases for these situations. Learning how to stay calm under pressure will also be very useful!

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Listening to complaints

If your client is particularly upset, it’s best to speak slowly and calmly in a soft voice to help lower everybody’s stress levels and ensure that the situation does not escalate into something more serious. Sometimes just listening to your client until they have said everything they want to say is the key to diffusing the situation.  A few timely phrases will show that you’re keen to help them with their problems:

  • Let’s go over what happened.
  • Please tell me what you’re upset about.

These phrases will let them know that you’re ready to listen. Make sure you do listen as there’s no need to solve the situation right away, or to start shouting out solutions. Let them tell you what happened and then tell them you are going deal with the problem.

  • OK, I understand and I’m going to look into this immediately.
  • I can see why you’re upset but don’t worry, I’m going to sort this out.
  • I’ll get back to you later today.

Learn how to deal with a dissatisfied customer in English.

Sometimes, despite your efforts to calm the situation, things will escalate and the client may start shouting.  If this happens you will need to be assertive and ask them to calm down:

  • I’m sorry but I can’t help you until you’ve calmed down.

You may even need to walk away from the situation to give them time to cool down.

Clarifying the problem and showing understanding

Once your client has told you what happened, it’s a good idea to ask questions to make sure that you’ve identified the problem correctly. Repeat the problem back to your customer to show you have understood and to allow them to correct you if necessary.  Using a calm voice you can use clarifying language such as:

  • I understand why you’re upset. It’s because we didn’t…
  • I understand why you’re upset. I would be too. I’m very sorry that we didn’t…


If mistakes have been made, then an apology will go a long way to making your customer feel contented again:

  • I’m really sorry this has happened.
  • I sincerely apologise for what’s happened.
  • I’m sorry that you feel this way. I’m going to look into this and help you.

After you apologise, you’ll need to think about what you can do to make your customer want to do business with you again.

Finding a solution

Once you have had time to think about what has happened, it’s time to tell your client what you are going to do to correct the situation.

If you’re not sure you know what your client wants from you, or if they show displeasure with your proposed solution, then ask them to tell you what they would like to happen. This will make them feel empowered and even if it is not possible to do everything they ask, you should be able to at least do some of it.

  • I’ve had a look at the situation and I am going to..
  • If my solution doesn’t work for you, I’d love to hear what will make you happy.
  • If it’s in my power I’ll get it done, and if it’s not possible, we can work on another solution together.

Following up

Once the situation has been resolved, follow up with your client shortly after to make sure that they are completely happy with the resolution. In these difficult situations it’s often best to do more than the client asks for or expects. Apologies, discounts and having some personalised service are quite common tactics:

  • I’d like to apologise once more and I’ll be getting a member of our team to call you later today to rectify this…
  • I’d like to offer you a 50% discount off your next order.

Remember to keep in contact with your customer and give them some extra care and attention. There’s only one thing worse than a dissatisfied client and that’s a client who is dissatisfied and angry for the second time!

Also learn how to greet a business customer in English!

What is the Business English course and how can it help me?

As well as dealing with difficult customers there are a wide range of other situations that occur in workplace environments. The GlobalExam Business English course is an online language training course that deals with many such situations including meetings, telephone calls, management issues, business correspondence, recruitment and marketing.

Language specific to particular career paths such as customer services, Human Resources, sales, purchasing, tourism, banking and logistics is also covered. Start improving your English by taking our online English course on the CSM sector.

The GlobalExam business course deals with hundreds of different situations and includes training videos using our team of native English speakers. Course participants can follow along with the dialogues by reading transcripts and they do related activities to ensure they have understood properly and know how to use the phrases confidently and accurately. There are practical skills to be learned including the chance to create a professional CV (resume) in English too. 

There are three levels on the course: beginner, intermediate and advanced and there is a level test to determine which course is most suitable for each candidate. Once completed successfully, participants receive a certificate to demonstrate their hard work. So, if you want to learn how to deal with any business situation don’t delay, sign up for the Business Course today!