We’ve all encountered a customer, at least once, in the line of accounts receivable work who is angry and frustrated. The customer might be yelling at you about a billing issue and you’re scrambling to find their information in your accounts receivable system. This type of situation can leave you flustered and unsure of how to handle the issue. Do you just give the customer what they want to diffuse the situation? Or do you stand your ground, and possibly harm the relationship you have with the customer?

There is a middle ground beyond these two extremes. You can diffuse an angry customer who is refusing to pay a bill or threatening to leave due to a billing error or credit error, without giving them everything they want. Below, we list a few tactics to follow when dealing with an angry customer in the accounts receivable department.


Often times, a customer just wants someone to listen to their issues. They may have had a hard day and all of their stress is coming out in this one phone call with you. It’s also possible this isn’t the first time they’ve encountered a billing error with you, so they are starting to feel frustrated. The best way to handle these situations is to simply acknowledge their problem. Don’t argue with them or try to prove them wrong. Admit that there was a mistake made and let them know that you understand how frustrating that can be sometime. Most of the time, this will catch a customer off guard and a simple apology can diffuse the situation.


It’s no surprise that people like to hear good things about themselves. Flattery can go a long way when you’re looking to diffuse a hostile situation and get paid. If you have had a customer for a long time, let them know that you appreciate their business over the years. If they have had a past of paying on time well, let them know that you appreciate how helpful they have been on getting their payments in on time. Even if they aren’t your best customer, you could find something to compliment them on – even consider letting them know that you appreciate their call to figure out the situation! Anything to get the customer feeling important.


You should never get off the phone with a customer who owes you money without giving them an action to take. This could be as obvious as asking them to remit payment as soon as the billing error is corrected, or as small as asking them to give you a phone call back the next day to ensure the error was corrected. By leaving the customer with an action to take, you are making sure that they don’t simply get off the phone with you and forget about you.

Dealing with an angry customer is never fun. No one enjoys getting yelled at, and it can easily ruin the rest of your day. However, if you follow these steps to diffusing the angry customer, you can quickly turn the situation around into a positive one. They might even thank you for your good customer service.