Positive Positioning Can Help You De-escalate Intense Interactions with Customers. Here’s how.

We took my son’s phone in for repair. After looking at the phone, the employee said. “Liquid has come in contact with this phone. Your warranty doesn’t cover this, but we have a couple of options. We can repair the unit, or we can sell you a refurbished model.”

While I wasn’t happy to learn that we’d have to pay for repair or a new phone, I did appreciate the way the employee delivered the news.

The employee used positive language, and he immediately moved into offering a solution that we could walk out of the store with that day. What this employee did is use Positive Positioning

Positive positioning is delivering a message in a positive way, and in such a way that minimizes a negative reaction. Positive Positioning is easy to do when you focus on three things.

First, maximize positive language while minimizing negative words. It’s best to stay away from negative words when you’re handling problems. You need to shift the customer to a positive mindset.

So instead of saying, “problem,” try saying “situation.”

And avoid words like “unfortunately,” as in, “Unfortunately the warranty doesn’t cover this.” The word “unfortunately” carries a negative connotation and customers gear up to challenge you when they hear this word.

And in general, try to use these positive words often: “Absolutely,” “Definitely,” and “Certainly!”

Secondly, you need to reframe the problem. Sometimes unhappy customers will ramble, making themselves more upset, and making it harder for you to cut to the business of fixing the issue.

So try these reframing statements to help customers move on.

“We want to get to the bottom of this a much as you do.”

“I certainly understand your concern. Let’s take a look and see what’s going on.”

“While the warranty doesn’t cover this, we do have a couple of options for you today..”

Reframing statements are fantastic for getting customers past excessive venting about the problem. 

The last thing you can do to create Positive Positioning is to reflect the brand promise. When problems occur, customers can experience buyer’s remorse. They chose to do business with you, but now they’re let down. When customers feel a sense of remorse, they can be more difficult. 

But you can offset those negative feelings by reflecting your brand’s promise. So try saying something about a benefit that customers get, even if there are occasional issues. 

“While you may experience issues with our coverage in some areas, what you always get with us is unlimited data, and you’re never strapped with contracts.”

At a cafe, I ordered a sandwich, drink, and chips. The employee came back with, “I’m sorry, we’re out of the veggie sandwich, but I’m happy to give you any sandwich on our menu at no charge.” 

That’s perfect positive positioning. Change up your message to use positive words and to swiftly move on to a solution, and you’ll keep customer emotions in a good place.

Let Me Help You De-escalate

If you find that you need more help with de-escalation, consider my online De-escalation training, which I’ve made available on LinkedIn Learning. In this course, I’ll show you how to choose words that create calm with an upset customer. I’ll walk you through how to reframe conversations so customers don’t get worked up while venting. And, I’ll teach you the absolute best way to handle a customer who yells or uses profanity.