How to De-escalate Using the Snatch and Flip Technique

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When your customer furiously tears in, not letting you pinch in so much as “um hmmm,” regain control using the Snatch and Flip technique. Here’s what you do.

1. Listen (Try to be fully present, listening without annoyance.)

2. Identify the subject that has hacked the customer off. (This tends to be the thing they bring up repeatedly.)

3. Snatch the topic and jump in, and immediately flip the conversation to how you might help. (Think of timing your entrance into a game of jump rope – you have to find the exact right second, or you’ll trip on the rope.)

If your customer’s real issue is the rental car broke down, but she’s venting about her hungry and irritated kids, and how your company put her in this position, you snatch the topic of her kids and then flip into problem-solving. Like this.

“I want to get you back to your kids quickly. So let me find out exactly where you’re located so we can send out a replacement vehicle.”

Steps one and two are easy. You do this every day. The Snatch and Flip take some practice. Let me walk you through exactly how to pull this off.

Snatch and Flip Explained

Snatch the Emotion
The customer’s fume is usually about the inconvenience or emotions
Don’t make the mistake of diving right into understanding and fixing the problem. You have first to acknowledge your customer’s feelings about the problem. If you don’t recognize the customer’s emotions or trouble, they’re likely to vent more.

Timing Is Everything
If you jump in too quickly, you can come off as nonchalant, or more likely; you can be rudely cutting the customer off.

I tell my clients to think of a game of jump rope where one kid is holding one end of the rope, and another is clutching the other end. They’re swinging the rope, and you’re waiting for that perfect moment to jump in. That’s how you snatch in a conversation – waiting for the exact moment. The wrong moment, and you’ll trip, that is, be perceived as rude or apathetic.

The Flip Must Be Smooth and Quick

You can’t linger on the topic you’ve snatched, because this will increase the rant. You have to smoothly transition into how you can better understand, and then fix the problem.

American Airlines Used the Snatch and Flip with Me

I was trying to check in for my American Airlines flight on my phone. I was able to get one boarding pass, but not the other. After several failed attempts, I called American, and my panic rolled out like endless rain. The agent snatched and flipped, focusing on my alarm that I wasn’t fully ticketed through to Tulsa.

The first three sentences are where she snatched my panic. She gets down to business in the fourth sentence.

“Ms. Golden, this is a system error. You’re checked in all the way through to Tulsa. I don’t want you to worry at all. Your flight is confirmed, and you’re checked in. You have a few options for getting your boarding pass (she gave me three easy options), but I want you to know it’s all good. You’re confirmed and checked in.”

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