Dealing with difficult customers

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Read at home,
talk in class

functional language for dealing with customers


In this extended Critical Reading Club lesson plan, students talk about the article they read at home. They also learn some functional language for dealing with customers and do several role-plays. This lesson is longer than other CRC lessons. 

B1 / Intermediate
B2 / Upper Intermediate
45 minCritical Reading ClubUnlimited Plan

This is a Critical Reading Club worksheet. With this format, students need to read an online article at home and do the exercises in the classroom. Learn more about how to use such worksheets and their benefits in our post.


The lesson starts with a warm-up activity in which students try to explain why some people might agree with the provided statement about customers. Then, students talk about dealing with difficult customers, contacting customer service and the ideas from the article. For instance, they need to provide reasons why employees should or shouldn’t do what the article suggested. The discussion questions also contain some functional language that students might have heard, like We appreciate your patience. In this part of the lesson, students also share their experiences with complaints, refunds and discounts, both from the customer as well as the employee perspective.


In this part of the lesson, students match a customer’s comments with a customer service rep’s responses. The responses include functional language such as: We appreciate your feedback., I apologize for the inconvenience. or It’s against our policy. Students also need to explain what some phrases in the comments mean (e.g. look into, make things right) They can infer the meaning from the context. 

Afterwards, students have a controlled practice of the functional language for dealing with customers. They need to use some words and phrases to reply to customers’ comments. Finally students get role-play cards. They need to read them and prepare to have a conversation with their partner. There are four role-plays and the situations include dealing with a difficult customer in a hotel, on the phone, on the plane and in a restaurant. Students are encouraged to use the functional language for dealing with customers from the lesson. 




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Leave a Reply

  1. Watanabefarah


  2. Lorenzo2023

    “But you need to calm down”…..Uhm that might not be the best option.
    It might be better to say “I understand your frustration. Let’s try to get to the bottom of the problem and solve the issue”.

    1. Ewa

      Hi, thanks for your comment. ‘You need to calm down’ might sound strong, but you’ll see in the lesson that it is used in response to a rather extreme comment ‘Are you crazy? It’s all your fault!’. Also, the lesson is about how not to let customers bully you, so some strong words might be needed. Your suggestion is ofcourse a good alternative.


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