Here’s the thing—
People don’t pay as much attention to what makes your product or service unique as to the quality of customer experience you deliver.
In fact, about 66% of companies compete essentially on the basis of customer experience, according to a 2018 Gartner customer experience survey.
What does this mean?
Your business can’t afford the slightest mistake.
Good news? You can navigate difficult situations in your workplace by role-playing customer service scenarios.
In this article, we cover the following situations:
- You have to answer the phone
- A specific product is unavailable
- The customer asks common customer support question
- You have to say no to the customer
- You don’t know the answer
- You have to put the customer on hold or call back later
- You have to transfer the customer
- The customer asks you for a favor
- The customer gets a faulty or a wrong product
- You have to deal with a difficult customer
- The customer is verbally abusive
- You’re in the wrong
- The customer is in the wrong
- The customer wants to speak to a manager
- The customer is happy
If you’re looking for more general customer-related articles, check these out:
- How to satisfy customers?
- How to capture the voice of the customer?
- How to write an apology letter to customers?
What are customer service scenarios for?
Customer service scenarios, or role-plays, prepare agents for conversations they are likely to have with customers. They’re based on typical situations that come up during serving clients and include prompts on how to deal with them.
The prompts are carefully designed in a way that strengthens the brand’s voice and deescalates conflict.
Scripting customer service scenarios and acting them out equips agents with ready-made solutions to different customers’ issues.
It also tells agents how to handle customers’ attitudes. The technique has multiple benefits for your organization:
- Helps build strong customer relationships
- Improves customer satisfaction
- Boosts customer experience with your brand
From customer service reps’ perspective, role-playing scenarios reduces stress levels in agents. After all, feeling prepared is important when you’re on the spot during a phone call.
Thanks to rehearsing, agents will know what’s expected of them. This is why role-playing customer service scenarios is a perfect addition to routine customer service training and onboarding new reps.
How to conduct role-play exercises?
Firstly, pick out a scenario from the list below. Next, assign client and agent roles.
Here’s a couple of customer service scenario examples (the possibilities are endless, though):
- The client asks an unusual question or makes a request. The agent has to decline it. Then, the client gets angry and demands to speak to a manager.
- The client asks about a service. The agent needs to check with another department before answering. In the end, the customer is satisfied with the outcome.
Let everyone familiarize themselves with the scripted cues. And start the role-play.
You can record the conversations and use them after the session to brainstorm what you can improve in the interactions. Or find solutions to unexpected problems that arose during role-playing.
Make no mistake, though. Customers can call you with an array of problems and attitudes.
Naturally, the list below isn’t exhaustive.
But it’s made up of the most typical situations. So, if your job is about interacting with customers on a daily basis, it will help you save the day.
Tips for saving the day in typical customer service scenarios
In this section, you’ll find ideas for customer service scenarios and customer-oriented dos and don’ts of handling them.
You can mix and match the scenarios to quiz your coworkers. They will thank you later.
Customer service role play scripts aren’t meant for learning by heart.
They’re here, so you can practice various difficult situations before they occur to avoid getting caught off guard.
1. You have to answer the phone
When you answer the phone, make sure you’re making a good impression. Introduce yourself and your company to make a connection with the caller.
- “Hello [followed by nothing].” When you give your name, it adds a human touch to the interaction.
- Hi, this is [your name] from [company name]. May I ask who’s calling?
- Hi, this is [your name] from [company name]. How can I help you today?
2. A specific product is unavailable
There’s a supply chain disruption, and your bestseller sold out? That’s bad but manageable.
You definitely don’t have to go into details when a customer asks about it. There’s a better way to answer.
- Phrases containing “not in stock,” “unavailable,” or “I can’t.” Instead, use positive language.
- That item will be back in stock [enter when]. You can preorder it right now to ensure you receive it as soon as it reaches our warehouse.
- Unfortunately, this product is discontinued. But I get why you like it. Here’s a link to a similar range that our customers switched to [insert a link].
- We’re expecting the item to be delivered any time soon. I can let you know when it reaches our warehouse. What is the best method of contacting you?
3. The customer asks common customer support question
It happens too often, right? So often, in fact, that you could have a dedicated chatbot to answer it day in and day out.
From the customer’s perspective, though, the question is unique, and they’ll expect the best service.
You should have a detailed response at hand (preferably in the form of a link to the knowledge base) and help the customer along the way.
- “Not this one again!”
- “I quit.” (Unless you really want to quit.)
- I’m more than happy to help you install a live chat on your website. But first, let me share this knowledge base article that can guide you through the process. I won’t hang up in case you want to ask me any questions along the way.
- Sure, I can help you with the customization. Here’s a step-by-step guide [refer the customer to the website] on how to do it. Would you like me to assist you, or can you take it from here?
Chatbots can assist customers with routine issues
Up to 80% of customers don't want to engage with reps to find out answers to simple questions.
4. You have to say no to the customer
In the Saas industry, customers often come up with ideas to improve the product. Some feature requests are useful, and some are, well, “less useful.”
As much as you don’t want to offend a customer by declining their idea, you can’t deceive them.
- “We’ll take a look!” Don’t give false hope when clearly the new feature is ludicrous.
- “Thanks, but no thanks.” Avoid sounding rude at all costs.
- Thank you for sharing your ideas with us. Unfortunately, we can’t implement it at the moment. Our product team is now working on [enter what new feature(s)]. If our implementation schedule changes in the near future, I’ll personally update you.
- I’m sorry our product doesn’t have the feature to solve your problem. Could you provide more details so that I’m sure there’s no misunderstanding? [Listen to what the customer’s problem is without interrupting.] From my experience, [the requested feature] may not be feasible because of [clearly explain why, e.g., complications down the road, security breach, an increase in the cost of using it].
- I am afraid we can’t extend the trial period, but I can offer you a 15% discount on this subscription plan as a goodwill gesture.
5. You don’t know the answer
You don’t have to have an immediate answer or a solution to every query. In cases like this, briefly explain why it will take a little longer to answer. Buy yourself a little time while searching.
- “I don’t know.” You can do better!
- “Please come back when my shift’s over.” Nice try.
- Good question. No one’s asked that before. Let me check that for you.
- Bear with me a moment while I’m finding it out for you.
- There can be a couple of things causing that. It will take me a minute or two to find out.
If the issue is complicated, you’ll need extra time to solve it. If you’re on the phone, you might need to put the customer on hold or transfer them to a different agent. Read on to find out how to handle those types of customer service scenarios.
Did you know that Tidio live chat lets you transfer chats between agents without customers realizing this to ensure a smooth customer experience?
6. You have to put the customer on hold or call back later
Customers nowadays are used to getting their issues solved instantly. According to our customer experience study, 44% of online customers don’t want to wait longer than 5 minutes. So asking them to hold can be like walking on really thin ice.
Here are some ideas for a role play script:
- “I’ll put you on hold.” *annoying on-hold music*. Not without an explanation.
- I’m sorry it’s taking me longer than usual to find out. Would you mind if I put you on hold to consult with my team? [Wait for a positive response]. Great, I’ll be back in two minutes.
- I’ve checked [X and Y], and I still can’t find out the cause. May I please put you on hold for three minutes? [Wait for a positive response]. Can I please take your email or a phone number just in case we get disconnected?
When the set time has passed, you need to check with the customer, so they don’t feel abandoned and show them that you’re committed to finding the answer.
- Thank you for holding. I’m sorry to have kept you waiting. I still need a minute or two [e.g., to replicate the issue]. Thanks for your patience.
Then, if you managed to find the solution, explain the problem. If not, you can suggest to the customer you call them back when you found out the cause of the issue.
- “Drop me an email later today, will you?” (It’s not the customer’s job to follow up).
- I wouldn’t like to keep you on the line any longer, so is this okay if I contact you after I fixed the issue? [Wait for a positive response.] Thank you. What’s the best way to contact you, please?
7. You have to transfer the customer
It can be an everyday interaction in larger companies, but you don’t want to sound like you’re washing your hands off an angry customer or their problem. In the best customer service scenarios, agents explain why they’re transferring clients and ask if it’s ok with them.
- “I’m new here, so hold on while I transfer you.” Ask if it’s ok first.
- Do you mind if I transfer you to my colleague [name of your teammate] who specializes in [the area of expertise] and will be able to resolve this for you quickly?
- May I transfer you to my colleague who has dealt with this issue before, so you’ll get the solution faster?
- I can see my colleague who is an expert in this area is available. I can transfer you now for a quicker resolution if you’d like.
After that, wait for a positive response.
In some scenarios, the customer doesn’t want to be transferred. In that case, you should explain again why the other colleague is the best source of information.
- My colleague [name of the colleague] from [name of the departaments] has your file on hand, so you won’t have to explain the issue in detail to him.
Depending on your organization, you sometimes have a chance to introduce the caller to your colleague. You can inform the customer about this and reassure your teammate that you are waiting for the call.
- Would you please hold for a moment while I get in touch with him/her to make sure he/she is ready to speak to you?
- The transfer will only take one moment. My colleague [name of the colleague] is waiting for your call.
8. The customer asks you for a favor
Some customers take the “customer is always right” too literally and will press you to break the rules or do a favor for them. When the request is entirely out of the question, focus on explaining what holds you back from granting the wish or why the rule is essential.
- “Don’t ask me. I haven’t come up with the (stupid) rule.”
- “I would if I could.”
- I hear why you’re upset, but unfortunately, I can’t help you with that at the moment. This policy is to [explain what it’s for, e.g., ensure your personal data is safe with us, there are no complications down the road or comfort of other customers].
- I understand your frustration and believe in what you’re saying, but customer service reps don’t have access to your password to avoid security risks. But I can help you retrieve your password. Here’s what you should do step-by-step.
In an ideal customer service scenario, you can try to find an alternative solution to a loyal customer’s request.
- Unfortunately, I can’t give you a discount on products on sale because we’ve made sure to price the product at what it’s worth, but if you spend over $100, I can offer you free shipping.
You should always consider the weight of a customer’s request and come up with a solution that meets their needs and fits into your organization’s culture. You can learn more about it in our article on providing customer care.
9. The customer gets a faulty or a wrong product
This one’s a biggie. Customers can get really frustrated when the product they were searching for for a long time or paid a hefty price for doesn’t arrive in mint condition, or worse—doesn’t work.
Customers will most likely ask for a replacement or a refund. Your role is to admit the mistake and apologize. Here’s what the perfect customer service scenario looks like.
- “You’ll get a new one in 10 working days.” Ask if this is what they want first.
- “Are you sure your kid didn’t break it?” Let’s avoid blaming the customer.
- I’m sorry to hear that the product you ordered didn’t arrive in the expected condition. We usually take great care when packaging our products so that they’re safe in transportation. Can I send you a new one right now?
- Aww, I can see why you’re disappointed. And thank you for reaching out about this. My apologies. There might have been a manufacturing error, and it’s our fault. Let me handle this for you now. Would you like to receive a new one or get a refund?
10. You have to deal with a difficult customer
There can be a thousand reasons why a customer won’t be a delight. Ideally, you let them vent their anger in one burst, and then you can focus on finding a solution. You may use this time to take notes and leave a second or two silence gap before responding.
- “Sorry, but…” It’s better not to interrupt.
- “Okay, but I gave you a discount!” It’s not helpful if you get angry. Just sit back and say nothing.
- [Nothing before they vent their anger.]
- I’d be upset, too, if that had happened to me. What would you like me to do to rectify this matter?
- I understand how upset you must be, and I apologize that this has happened. Would you give me a chance to sort this out for you?
After that, you can focus on finding a solution and winning them back as loyal customers.
11. The customer is verbally abusive
It’s natural for people to get frustrated and express their dissatisfaction as long as they remain calm and civil. And most likely, you’ll be able to help.
But when an angry customer resorts to offensive language and their attacks are becoming personal, you’re within your rights to interrupt them and tell them they’re out of line.
- While I’m here to help you, I cannot if you continue to swear. Is that understood?
- I want to help you, but I simply cannot if you continue to use expletives. If it happens again, you’ll leave me no alternative but to end our conversation. Is that clear?
If that doesn’t work, you have no choice but to hang up, walk away, or have the customer removed by the security or the police.
- You’ve left me no option but to end this conversation.
Here’s a useful read on how much abuse one can take from a client.
12. You’re in the wrong
Even the best customer service team can and will make mistakes. Or there’s an outage, and the customers will blame you anyway. There’s no need to panic. It’s one of the most common customer service situations.
In this customer service scenario, acknowledge the error and apologize. The next step would be to come up with the solution and implement it asap.
- “It wasn’t me.”
- My apologies about that. I take full responsibility for the mistake. I accidentally [explain what happened]. I’m working on fixing it as quickly as possible by [explain what you’re doing to resolve the issue]. It can take up to [enter approximately how long], but I’ll update you when I know more. Thank you so much for your patience, and again, I’m really sorry about this.
- I see why server crashes can inconvenience our clients, and I’m sorry for such a poor experience. I want to assure you we looked into the situation and took steps to prevent such situations in the future. [Explain what steps you’ve taken.]
Don’t forget to update the customer along the way.
13. The customer is in the wrong
It was hard when you had to tell the client you made a mistake. But telling a customer they are at fault can be even worse. It’s probably one of the most challenging customer service scenarios for training new reps. The following answers should do the trick, though.
- “What an idiot.”
- “You’ve used it wrong, so I can’t help you. Bye.”
- I’m sorry to hear that. The thing is, I’ve dug into the issue, and there seems to be a problem on your end. Why don’t you try [a possible solution]? Let me know if it helps!
- It looks like the issue is the result of [the mistake the customer made]. But don’t worry, it can be tricky if you do it the first time. If you check the knowledge base [insert a link, or enter any other reference material], you’ll find the directions on how to do it. Let me know if you need my help.
- I’m really sorry about that. It seems like you provided the wrong billing information, and the booking didn’t go ahead. Trust me; I’ve been there before. We’re fully booked at the moment, but I can check nearby hotels for you if you’d like.
14. The customer wants to speak to a manager
From time to time, friendly attempts to help, reasonable arguments, and alternatives you offer don’t make any difference. The angry customer can bring out the heavy guns and demand to speak to a supervisor.
Don’t take it personally. Here’s what to do if your company policy doesn’t let you transfer calls to the management.
- Booob, you in here? There’s an angry guy for you. Can you tell him refunds are not an option? *without muting the call*
- I can see why this might be frustrating for you. Unfortunately, my manager isn’t available at the moment, but I’ll leave her a note. In the meantime, I can [suggest an option to solve the issue] or [suggest another option]. If this doesn’t work, we can then schedule a call with the manager.
15. The customer is happy
Some customers may want to express their satisfaction or gratitude… Some really do!
Some agents may not know how to respond. Here’s a scenario on how to play it out like a pro.
- Thanks so much [customer’s name]. We really appreciate the feedback you’re giving us. You can share it if you’d like [enter where, e.g., final satisfaction survey, form, or review site].
Here are the most important things to have in the back of your mind, no matter in which direction a customer scenario goes:
- A job in customer service and customer support is tricky.
- It can get easier if you stimulate and practice challenging customer service situations.
- Difficult customer service scenarios and answers are great communication exercises that provide cues for agents and prepare them to navigate through everyday and complicated interactions.
- Thanks to customer service script templates, tickets are resolved quicker and more efficiently.
- Using examples of role-play scenarios for agents’ training improves customer experience and increases their satisfaction.
- If you are looking for a career in a call center or a help desk, beware some businesses use the customer service scenarios for interviews.
Feel free to use and adapt scenarios in this article for your benefit.