Instantly regain control of a conversation and de-escalate using this technique

When customers are venting, they’re stuck in the right side of the brain. We’ve talked about the right emotional brain and the Communication Chain. Here’s a tactic you can use to move on. 

Ask your customer three closed-ended questions back-to-back.

Closed-ended questions are questions that can be answered in one word:

“Do you like Italian food?” is a closed-ended question.

“How are you?” is an open-ended question.

Closed-ended questions work because customers are limited to one word (or perhaps a series of numbers).

Asking closed-ended questions will give you immediate control over the conversation. Still, to maintain that control, you’ll have to ask closed-ended questions that require the customer to go to the left-brain to “retrieve” the answer.

You’ll need to ask questions that require your customer to use analytical thinking, recall, or look up something.

Here’s an example.

When I managed a call center in the car rental industry, I had my employees ask customers three closed-ended questions the moment they felt they were losing control of a conversation. These are the questions my employees asked.

1. What is your rental agreement number?

2. Can you read me the location code located in the top right-hand corner of your agreement?

3. Can you give me the exact dates of the rental?

These questions always put the agent back in control, and they NEVER failed– because the questions are all closed-ended, relevant to helping the customer, and they all require the customer to use the left-brain to retrieve the answers.

Closed-ended questions can be answered in one word.

Closed-ended questions move the customer from the right brain to the left brain.

Closed-ended questions put you back in control.

This tactic takes some pre-planning, so grab the Tree Closed-ended Questions Worksheet, and we’ll create your three closed-ended questions now.

For more help with de-escalation and call control, check out my De-escalation Academy.