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As mentioned in Part 1, Mastering Business English Telephone skills are vital, as we live in a competitive, fast-moving world and I cannot stress enough, the importance of having excellent English Telephone Skills in your business.

Not only does one have to remain polite, focused, helpful, pleasant and never forgetting that positive tone but dealing with angry, unhappy customers require extra skills, like learning how to listen, to show empathy, reassure the customer and not let yourself get emotional.

Receiving a phone call from an unhappy customer

The initial contact often sets the tone for the rest of your call, even if you’ve fallen on an unhappy customer. Remember, you reflect/portrait the image of your company.

Angry customers need to be listened to and as you try understanding their problem, be honest and don’t make promises you cannot keep. Stay calm, show empathy and reassure the customer.

An Example of a Dialogue with an Unhappy Customer

IT Service Centre


Good morning, this is Catherine speaking from Techno Ltd.Hello Catherine, this is Mike of Pubs United
How can I help you, Mike?Well, I’m very disappointed in your services actually. You promised to send an engineer out yesterday, to fix our internet problem and nobody showed up.

You are absolutely useless!! It’s four o’clock and we have customers arriving in one hour and nothing is working, do you understand me?

Oh, I’m really sorry to hear about that. Let me see what I can do.Sorry, what you mean you’re sorry – do something!!
I understand that you are upset, and I’ll do my best to help you, but could you please first provide me with your customer number, so I can look into your case history.My customer number is 878899 but I’ve already called five times and given my number and that has not helped. All I get is promises that I will be called back!!!
Thank you for providing me with the number, let me check and see what the status is. I can reassure you that it’s not our company procedure, not to call clients back.

Oh, I can see that the engineer tried to call you back yesterday at 15:00.

What a load of rubbish, I always have my phone with me, and nobody has called me!!

Are you going to help me or not?

Of course, I can assure you that I will try my best to rectify the situation as fast as possible.So, I’d like to know what you are going to do about this?
I’m just going to put you on hold and try to contact the engineer on duty.ok, I’ll wait.
Mike, are you still there? Thank you for holding.

An engineer will be with you in the next two hours.

What, that’s unacceptable, he needs to come now!!
I understand your needs, but six o’clock, is the earliest an engineer can be with you but don’t worry, he’ll have your internet up and running in no time. He’ll bring a new router with him.This is really not good enough. He better show up, if not I’ll be calling your manager.
I’ll get back to you at 18:30, to double-check that your problem has been fixed.I’d appreciate that, thank you
My pleasure, is there anything else I can help you with?Nothing at the moment thanks for your help.

Useful apologetic phrases

  • I’m really sorry to hear about that. What exactly is the problem?
  • We’re very sorry for the delay
  • This is very unfortunate.
  • This had never happened before.
  • I’ll look into it immediately
  • I assure you that we will rectify the situation as quickly as we can.
  • Please accept our apologies
  • Well, I’m sorry you’re having problems

Complaining in a polite and diplomatic manner

  • Could you tell me please what’s happening?
  • We’d like to avoid any legal trouble, so let’s find an agreeable solution.
  • I would really appreciate your help in getting this fixed, as quickly as possible.
  • I understand that you have a lot to do but this is the third time I call for help.
  • Yes, I understand but I am the customer and I’m really disappointed with your services.

Sometimes you just need to buy time

  • Let me check on that for you
  • I’ll look into that and get back to you shortly
  • I’ll have to get back to you on this issue
  • I’ll have to check with my manager first
  • I’ll try and call you back on Friday

Announcing a cancellation

  • I’m afraid something has come up and I won’t be able to meet you as planned.
  • Listen, I’m sorry but I won’t be able to join you for lunch.
  • We are having problems with our supplier and won’t be able to dispatch your order as planned.
  • Our suppliers have let us down and your order can only be dispatched in a week.
  • I’m afraid without a deposit, we will have to cancel your order.
  • I’m going to have to cancel my visit to Singapore next week. I’m sorry for the inconvenience.

Changing an appointment

  • I’m sorry, I’m busy until 14:00, but any time after that is fine for me.
  • I’m pretty tied up with conference calls today, could we reschedule for tomorrow at eight o’clock?
  • I’m afraid an urgent matter has come up, how about meeting tomorrow afternoon?

The wrong number

  • You’ve come through to the wrong number, please hold the line and I’ll transfer you to the sales department.
  • I’m afraid you’ve got the wrong number; Mr Jones does not work here.
  • Who did you want to speak to? I’m sorry but there’s no one here by that name.

Leaving a message

  • Thank you for calling. I will make sure Mr Jones gets your message.
  • Please let Pascal know that I will not be able to attend the meeting at two o’clock.
  • Would you please inform Mrs Richardson, that I will be arriving by taxi and do not need picking up at the airport. Many thanks
  • I’ve already called three times. Could you please tell Mr Jones that we need to talk before the conference starts.

Confirming dates and times

  • I’m calling to confirm the details of Mr Jones visit. He will be arriving at Berlin airport on the 4th November at 14:45 on flight LH878.
  • Thank you for calling, yes that’s correct the meeting starts at 08:30 tomorrow.
  • Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought we had planned to meet on Tuesday 3rd November at 15:30?
  • I just want to check on the delivery date of our Order 98988, is it still scheduled to arrive on 7th April?
  • Hello, is that the Orient Hotel in Dubai? Mr Jones speaking and I’m calling regarding a reservation I made last week. Reservation number 6678B7. I’d just like to confirm that we need a double room with shower not bath, and we will be arriving on the 3rd May at one o’clock in the morning. A late arrival.

An Example of Changing Flight Reservations

Swissair flight reservation


Good morning, Swissair reservations, Natalie speaking, how can I help you?Good morning Natalie, I need to change a flight reservation.
Of course, may I have your full name and booking number, please?Yes, my name is Sandra Johnson and my booking number is 777656
Ah yes, I can see it and you would like to change your reservation?Correct, my flight leaves on Tuesday from Zurich to Amsterdam at 13:45 and I was wondering if there was an earlier flight?
One moment please, I’ll just check that for you.Thank you.
I’m afraid the only seat left on the 09:30 flight is Business Class.Oh, dear. That’s going to be expensive.

What’s the price difference?

We’re talking about an extra 179€ in total.That would be fine, but I would also require a window seat, is that possible?
I’m terribly sorry but we only have an aisle seat available.Well, I suppose I have no choice then. I’ll take that seat. Can you make the changes?
Yes, of course, Sandra.

Will you be using PayPal again for your payment?

Yes, please send me a PayPal invoice.

Could you also provide me with the flight details again?

Of course

So, it’s flight SW747 from Zurich to Amsterdam, departing Tuesday 3rd November at 09:30, aisle seat 3C, is all confirmed

Perfect, I’m really pleased this worked out-
My pleasure, is there anything else I can help you with?Nothing at the moment but thank you for your help.
You’re welcome. Goodbye
  • Do not hesitate to contact me mail@seanixon.com or via Chatra, if you have any questions, comments or if I can be of further help.
  • Zögern Sie nicht, mich unter mail@seanixon.com oder über Chatra zu kontaktieren, wenn Sie Fragen haben oder ob ich weiterhelfen kann.
  • N’hésitez pas à me contacter mail@seanixon.com ou via Chatra, si vous avez des questions ou si je peux être d’une aide supplémentaire.

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