The Only Vocal Tone Your Employees Should Be Using With Customers


I’m working from home today, enjoying having my college-daughter here for the week, and the freedom of my son’s clear high-school calendar during Spring Break. But, predictably, my teenagers are upstairs with eyes on screens, probably with unbrushed teeth. So, I’m in my home office. I’ve promised myself no more than two hours work. And then I’ll come up with something adventurous for us to do today.

While sipping a Bloody Mary, I reviewed a random sample of phone calls ahead of a workshop I’m delivering for a medical clinic in Los Angeles in a couple of weeks.


I want to talk to you about your tone of voice with customers because this is the biggest problem I picked up on the recordings today.

There are pretty much three voice tones you can use with customers.

1. Authoritative

This is the tone you’d use when disciplining a child or if you’re a police officer working to assert your authority. Rarely, if ever, would you use this tone with a customer. Having said this, you might have to speak authoritatively if a customer crosses the line and is profane or disrespectful.

The Authoritative Tone Can Come Across: Continue reading “The Only Vocal Tone Your Employees Should Be Using With Customers”

3 De-escalation Techniques Gayle King Used In the Emotional R. Kelly Interview


Gayle King, CBS This Morning co-host, sat down with an emotional R. Kelly to talk about his allegations of sexual abuse. In the interview, King maintained a calm and steady focus using three key de-escalation tactics, techniques that also work very well in intense interactions with customers. 

In the interview, the singer cries, rants at the camera, beats his chest, and stands, towering over Gayle King with warlike body language. The CBS This Morning crew stopped the interview to give R. Kelly the chance to compose himself. (Back on camera, he’d failed to cool down.)

R. Kelly’s emotional eruption was astonishing, but the stunner for me was Gayle King’s calm presence, and focus while the singer platformed over her. I played the video three times to take in Gayle’s unflappable countenance. She was as calm as the moon.

After R. Kelley’s theatrical performance aired on CBS This Morning, co-host Norah O’Donnell awed, “You remained both tough and calm throughout that.” And to that observation, Gayle rationalized, “It wouldn’t do any good if we both got hysterical, or if we both got very emotional.”

This point right here is why R. Kelly and Gayle King are on my blog today – “It wouldn’t do any good if we both got hysterical, or if we both got very emotional.”

Customers will rant, verbally attack, and maybe even be intimidating. It’s unfair, but it happens. Your best response to an unreasonable and emotional customer is to remain unflappable, just as Gayle King did in this now viral interview.

Here’s a close look at three techniques King used tactically to help her remain calm and focused throughout the dramatic sit-down, three techniques that will help you stand unflappable with demanding and unreasonable customers. I’ve also included a video of portions of the interview for you to study Gayle’s de-escalation techniques.  Continue reading “3 De-escalation Techniques Gayle King Used In the Emotional R. Kelly Interview”

10 Takeaways Your Employees Get From My Telephone Skills Online Training


Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But, people will never forget how you made them feel.” That point right there – people will never forget how you made them feel – is why we created this course.

This training is about never having your customers hang up with negative feelings about how you talked to them. Here are 10 Takeaways Your Employees Get From My Telephone Skills Training.


  1. Three keys for how to make the most of the first six seconds of a phone call
  2. How to bridge into questions, so you sound friendly and helpful
  3. The art of yielding, so you don’t accidentally over-talk your customers
  4. Discover why speaking in complete sentences improves the perception of friendliness and helps you build rapport
  5. Exactly how to gracefully handle dead airspace, so you avoid that awkward uncomfortableness on the phone Continue reading “10 Takeaways Your Employees Get From My Telephone Skills Online Training”

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. Continue reading “How to De-escalate Using the Snatch and Flip Technique”

The One Word That Makes Customers Accept Your Word As Final

Front view portrait of operator man with headset

If you say “because” when you’re telling a customer something, you’ll significantly increase the chance that they’ll accept your word as final.

Here’s Why Saying “Because” Works

Research by psychologist Ellen Langer found that saying “because,” and then tossing out a reason as insignificant as a discarded rubber band, got people to agree. In her research, Ellen created a scenario where a person wanted to cut in line to use a copier in a library, and the request was made three different ways:

1. “Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”

60% of the time this question worked, and the person was able to cut in line.

2. “Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?”

This absurd reason worked 93% of the time.

3. “Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?”

Pleading with urgency, even with a ludicrous need, upped the success rate to 94%.

Using the “because” tactic, you can increase the chances of a customer accepting your word as final. I teach and role-play this strategy in my de-escalation workshops.

Here’s all you have to do to use the “because” tactic for de-escalation. Continue reading “The One Word That Makes Customers Accept Your Word As Final”

5 Reasons Why You’re a Rookie At De-escalating

bored young female professional working for a call center

Inflammatory words and an aggressive tone heat up an interaction like an oven heats up a room. The five biggest mistakes I see customer service professionals make when talking to upset customers are:

Aggressive tone – A direct or authoritative tone will quickly lead to an escalation in aggression or to a supervisor.

Making threats – Spitting off, “Calm down or I can’t help you” will assuredly not make a customer calm down.

Repeating your point – Repetition doesn’t make your point stronger. It annoys, or worse, infuriates your customer.

Pushing back – Getting aggressive or hostile because your customer pushes you shows weakness, and your customer will push harder.

Playing the antagonist role – Disagreeing and pointing out where your customer is wrong intensifies the interaction.

Let’s walk through the five big rookie mistakes, and see how an all-star would handle each of these situations. Continue reading “5 Reasons Why You’re a Rookie At De-escalating”