While most people avoid swearing at work, letting a curse word fly from time to time does have a few advantages.

There are a few ways cursing helps:

  • You can vent without punching anyone.

  • It can boost your pain tolerance.

  • It can help you bond with your colleagues.

On the flip side, there are many good reasons to speak carefully to your colleagues and customers:

  • You can look unprofessional if you don’t time your cursing right.

  • You’ll damage your message if the audience is skeptical.

  • You could get sued if you create a hostile work environment.

The bad news if you’re managing a call center is that customers who curse will be on the line much longer than people who don’t use profanity.

CallMiner analyzed 82 million calls to measure the impact of foul-mouthed customers. Obviously, profanity creates a terrible work environment for customer service reps. The other problem is that these calls tend to last longer–up to 8.3 minutes more than calls with polite people. Polite conversations last about 5 minutes, but the cursing callers go on for about 14 minutes.

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CallMiner’s Eureka platform uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze customer interactions across all channels and draw conclusions. This analysis found that forcing customer service reps to use a script is part of the problem: “When contact center agents rely on scripts, they tend to ask questions with no relevance to the current situation, further irritating the customer.”

CallMiner analyzed 82 million phone calls to measure the impact of angry phone callers on key performance indicators for call centers.
Image: CallMiner

Customer service reps should be trained to deal with callers who yell, but they also should know when people have crossed a line. At that point, Marketing Daily Advisor suggests thinking about how to save the relationship:

“While some people have bad tempers, generally, by the time a person is screaming at your service reps, the relationship is in peril. How have you failed? Look at the situation to determine whether a refund is appropriate or whether escalating the situation to a manager with more authority can bring a peaceful resolution.”

Consumer communication company LivePerson analyzed millions of conversations across more than 500 brands to understand how people talk with customer support reps. The 2017 study also found that customers were most polite with the pharmaceutical, consulting, banking, energy, and financial services industries. Customers were more likely to be rude when calling telco, transportation, consumer products, and hospitality companies as well as charities and non-profits. Unsurprisingly, when a person’s name was attached to the exchange, the individual was more likely to be polite.

CallMiner analyzed 82 million phone calls to understand how often people get angry when calling customer support and what makes them mad.
Image: CallMiner