If your customer is raising his voice, cutting you off, or is clearly upset, he is stuck in the right side of the brain. To help this customer calm down, you’re going to have to move him to the left side of the brain. No other approach you take will defuse anger if you don’t first move over to the left brain.
Psychologists talk about what they call the communication chain. The communication chain says that when a person puts out a verbal message, they expect a response to that message. That first message is a link in the communication chain. If there’s no response to the link, the chain is left unlinked, or broken.
Now, we know that we have two different parts of the brain that serve two very different functions. The right side of the brain is where we feel emotions, such as fear, joy, dread, shock, and love. The left side of our brain is the logical side. This is where we perform tasks that have to do with logic, such as science and math.
So back to the communication chain—if you have a customer who expresses concern and you don’t acknowledge it, you break that chain and force them into the right side of the brain where they feel frustration, anger, confusion. What you want is for your customer to operate in the left side of their brain, or their logical side. You don’t want a customer to be controlled by their emotions. By acknowledging a customer’s concern, you’re moving that customer to the left, or more logical side, of their brain and simultaneously keeping the conversation moving forward by closing that link in the communication chain.
Here are some good examples of how to acknowledge concern:
“I realize this whole thing is frustrating for you.”
“I don’t want you to worry at all; we’ll get to the bottom of this for you.”
“I realize how complicated it is to…”
“I cannot imagine how upsetting it is to…”
“I know how confusing it must be when…”
As long as your acknowledgement is genuine, you’ll be fine.
The idea is to link the communication chain with a genuine acknowledgement of concern. Put yourself in your customer’s place, which will give you a sense of empathy; all you have to do is relay that empathy back to your customer. That’s all acknowledgement is: empathy.
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