How would you handle an angry customer? – Tough Sales Interview Question

As they say, the sales job is challenging. Accordingly, you need to face unwanted situations several times. Now, the situations are no exception in this job but how you react in those critical situations, makes a big difference to proceed to your career. 

It creates a lot of opportunities when you understand how a customer feels, what they think, and what are their requirements. 70% of the buying decisions are made after a customer feels well-treated. So, it is very important to know customer handling. When you turn up for a sales interview, there is a high chance that this question is asked to you. You are supposed to deliver a well-pitched answer instead of getting confused or end up making a fake story. 

According to the study from 1st Financial Training Services, 96% of the unhappy customers don’t lodge a complaint and among those customers, 91% of them simply leave. Any business cannot progress until there are retentive customers. So, when there is a situation where you feel the customer is unhappy, you need to satisfy him/her. Gradually, in your interview answer, you need to mention these concerns and mention your strategy. 

And to make a not-so-generalised sales interview answer, scroll down to get more crucial information. 

Why do interviewers ask how would you handle an angry customer?

Put yourself on the other end of the table and think which type of candidates does a company need to deal with the customers. Sales enthusiasts who have no idea about a critical situation or get confused in a difficult scenario would never perform as expected for a company. When someone is unable to face these types of interview questions, it is inevitable that he/she cannot handle a critical situation.

Interviewees want to see if you have the potential to handle critical customers and act professionally, without getting personal with them. This question is asked to make sure that you would work to secure the customer relationship and maintain the company’s goodwill. They are simply looking for your enthusiasm and motivation to work in challenging circumstances. 

The importance of helping angry customers

Before you answer this situational interview question, it is better to know what are the advantages you or the company will have upon helping an angry customer. 

  1. The most important advantage is the possibility to retain the customer. A frustrated customer can return when he/she find better behaviour from your side. When you are empathetic to his/her problem, they feel cared for and get satisfied. 
  2. For your personal career development, when you can solve a customer’s problem, you get good feedback. This will help to make a good impression on your supervisor or manager. 
  3. When you solve a problem, that not only help the customer but also helps to review the whole work process for a company. If a certain type of problem is getting repeated, then you might find a permanent solution to help the company in a long run. 
  4. While solving major issues like this, your obstacle handling skills would get better with time. For a salesperson, it is important to tackle critical situations, face rude behaviour and move on. 

List of scenarios which makes customer angry and how you deal with them:

Different critical scenarios can take place while interacting with the customers in different contexts. A customer can get angry under any misconception or there can be any problem from the server-side as well. As a salesperson, your job is to dig deep into the matter and understand the whole point first. 

While you’re preparing for an interview answer, it is better to know all the possible scenarios that make a customer disappointed. It has two benefits. The first one is, you can get the different situations to draw a good answer to this interview question and secondly, if there is any counter-question from the interview board, you’ll be prepared. 

A wide critical situation

Sometimes, there can be situations where more than one customer can get affected and gradually get angry with the service. For example, you are working in an internet service provider company and due to some technical glitch, there is no internet for one long hour in the busy hours. In such situations, there will be frequent customer calls, complaints, and they will get pissed off. 

For such a situation, you need to prepare an emergency team who can handle this situation while the service can be fixed. 

One-to-one issues

A very common case is when an individual customer is angry for some reason and you need to handle it. Now, you cannot engage a whole team to deal with a single customer practically. So, you need to solve it with your own problem-solving skills and make sure that the customer is satisfied. 

For example, a customer lost his receipt but he wants a free service for a product. Now, it is again policy to serve him but to maintain the company’s goodwill you need to find a way out. So the simple rule is to respond first and listen to his concern carefully. Then, repeat what he said to let him understand that you’re bothered with his problem. It will make him calm to some extent. Then you will have the opportunity to classify the problem and solve it accordingly. 

Feedback and Reports

The next scenario is when the customers want to know if you’re providing a service that was not available. So, you need to respond to such queries carefully so even if they aren’t buying it, they visit the place again. 

You need to be attentive towards their comments and tell them that it was a good suggestion or you need to explain why the service is not available. It should sound as you care about the customer feedback. 

The regular complaints

Admit that there would be some customers who will write a complaint repetitively with some suggestions or allegations. As a company, you cannot ignore them. So, you also need to be repetitive with a ‘why’ until you find the root cause of the problem. Every time there is an unsatisfied customer, ask them questions to reach the real problem. 

Unexpected customers

Yes, in every company there are some customers who you never expect to have. There are some customers who always try to create a scene or end up fighting. So, handle these types of customers with patience and don’t take such comments personally. Remember that you’re a representative of the company. 

Also Check –How do you handle Customer Rejection? – Tough sales interview questions

How to answer to impress the interviewer 

As you’re aware of the general scenarios where you can encounter an angry customer, let’s see how you can handle them in your interview answer. 

For Freshers

According to a recent study, there are 71% of customers got angry as the sales representative insisted them to talk to their supervisor. So, as a fresher, you need to face the situation instead of referring to summoner else. In your answer as well, you need to showcase your skills to handle critical situations. 

In your answer, mention your interpersonal skills like active listening, responsibility handling, and professional communication. As you don’t have any professional experience before, you may mention how your skills are going to help to handle a critical situation. Also, mention your research about the company’s customer relations. It will show how passionate you are about the position. 

Before you turn up for the interview, read the job description properly, know which types of candidates they are looking for, what are the job objective and then map your skills with them. Talk to the point while answering and explain your answer with an example. An example helps the interviewers to understand your potential better as well. 

For Experienced

If you have experience in this field, that would definitely help you to prepare a better answer. But you need to use the experience in the right way or it can be your disadvantage as well. So, in your answer mention your skill and how you’ve used them before to solve a practical problem. Tell them how you’ve helped customers with your listening and quick problem-solving skills. 

As you’re experienced, you cannot only tell about your skills like a fresh applicant. You need to share some honest story in a proper format like STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) or CAR (Context, Action, Result) to deliver the answer. Mention your realisation like how important it is to listen to the customer or control patience to retain the customer. In situation based interview questions like this, your behaviour is very important. How you react to recall a critical situation also tells a lot about you. 

Also Check –Sales Conversations: When you interrupt, what do your customers think?

Sample Sales Interview Answers:

For Freshers


I believe that negative situation is a part of sales job and it is better to accept these types of situation. I would try to listen to the customer and apologise for the inconvenience. Apologies help people to calm down. Then I would analyse the whole problem and assure him/her that we would help him. If there are any repetitive complaints, I would try to make a report and discuss with my senior for an improved process. 


I talked to some people who are working in sales for some years now and they informed me how they try to manage angry customers. As I have active listening skills I would try to listen to their problem and ask probing questions to the customer to get into the main problem. Also, I would apply my quick problem-solving skills to solve the problem by myself. I think if we can behave with them calmly and assure positive results, they would be satisfied. 

For Experienced


When I was working as a store manager for my last company, I faced a customer who wanted to return a product that was bought 2 weeks ago. Now, according to the company policy, we cannot take that product back after three days. The customer got angry and was supposed to leave the store being unsatisfied. 

So, I apologised to her and told her that we are extremely sorry as we cannot take the product back. She informed that her husband bought this product by mistake and they can’t use it for some reason. So I offered if we can make a free home delivery for her new order as we couldn’t help her this time. She agreed and ordered products from our store. That is how I retained an angry customer with a quick solution. 


I was a sales associate for a software company for two years, In one quarter, we noticed that there is a similar type of complaint coming for the past three weeks from the customers and in the last week, ten old customers left our service. 

I arranged a meeting with the sales and product review team and then tried to call the customers who made complaints. I listen to their problem and then assured them a better service. Then, we made some necessary changes to the service. Then, we sent an email with a bonus offer to those who made a complaint and left the service. We were able to retain them and got a 12% increase in purchase for that software by the next quarter. 

Mistakes to avoid while answering this question:

  1. Get frustrated

It is very easy to get frustrated or over-excited while talking about any situation where the customer behaved rudely or said inappropriate things. But, you need to understand that this is a part of the job and no matter what, you need to maintain professionalism. In your answer to this question, you cannot use any offensive word that put your image down. Maintain a natural tone while sharing your experience and your action. 

  1. Give a vague answer

Try to avoid bad answers like, ‘I never experienced such situation’, or ‘I simply referred the problem to my supervisor’, or ‘I had a very bad experience and the customer lost his mind while talking.’ These answers are not going to help you to overcome the situation but showcase that you have a lack of conflict resolution skills. 

  1. Copy a general answer

There are a bunch of answers available on the internet and YouTube from which you are supposed to take some inspiration. But when you decide to memorise an answer and just say it in the interview, it won’t work. Interviewers would ask several counter-question based on your answer. And if you don’t have an honest answer, you’re not going to get the job. 

  1. Be too honest 

Following the third point, you cannot be too honest as well. Don’t include answers where you failed to handle a conflict. This question is asked to examine your repulsive skills, not to hear your failure stories. So, it is highly recommended to put some legit examples. 

Similar Questions:

  1. How would you handle conflict with a customer?
  2. Tell me a time when you deal with an angry customer. 
  3. How would you handle a difficult customer or situation in sales?
  4. Did you ever experience an angry customer? If yes, then how to resolve the problem? 
  5. What will be your strategy to retain an angry customer? 
  6. Do you think you can handle a difficult situation in sales? How confident you are? 

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