Winning with the Caller from Hell: A Survival Guide for Doing Business on the Telephone


204 pages
ISBN 1-55022-695-9
DDC 651.7'3





Reviewed by Janet Arnett

Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.



Employees who answer the phones at inbound call centres deal with topics
ranging from tech support for computers to flight bookings, from billing
issues to product promotions. They inform, solving problems, explain,
and take orders. They must be experts in their company’s products or
services, in interpersonal communications, and in customer service
skills. And they must know how to defuse anger and soothe the customer
from hell.

This is the fourth in Belding’s ... from Hell series on workplace
communications. While the content is most relevant to customer-service
and tech-support reps at call centres, anyone who deals with customers
by phone will find it useful. It reviews the elements that contribute to
a customer’s perceptions and expectations, the factors every caller
brings to the transaction, things that maximize customer satisfaction,
and how the customer-service rep often plays a role in helping the civil
caller descend into caller-from-hell status. Listening skills,
questioning techniques, and the language of diplomacy are covered.

Belding’s style is that of a trainer/lecturer, creating lists and
mnemonics to drive home his points: there are five ways to control tone
of voice, five elements that make up tone, five negative words to avoid,
five “pieces of baggage” every caller carries into the conversation,
etc. It’s an easy read, packed with solid how-to pointers directed
toward maximizing customer satisfaction and lowering stress levels for
the call takers.


Belding, Shaun., “Winning with the Caller from Hell: A Survival Guide for Doing Business on the Telephone,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 17, 2024,