Category: Call Center De-Escalation

5 Comebacks for the Customer Who Tries to Intimidate You

Some people use bait tactics to try to get what they want. They’ll say something just to get you to react. They’re trying to take your power so that they’re in control. A lot of […]

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Managers Are Usually to Blame for Escalations

Customers are shrewd and impatient. They’re not going to mess around with a customer service employee who feigns (or lacks) authority to resolve issues. Customers will put their “get me a manager” card on the table in a hair’s breadth. And managers get frustrated with this, but it’s your fault, managers. You teach customers to escalate by holding all the power in your headsets.

Enhance Your De-escalation Skills During Your Lunch Break!

  How to Handle Difficult Customers (with a focus on de-escalation) Training Length: 30 minutes, with knowledge checks and simulations   Thanks to the Internet and social media, customers are savvier now than ever before.  Although […]

When a Customers Asks For Your Manager, Here’s What You Say

  What Viewers of This Video Are Saying Get More Ideas Like This Now you can give your representatives even more great skills for delivering the best customer experience and for handling difficult customer situations. Sign […]

The 3-Prong Method To Get Customers Who Think They Need a Manager To Calm Down and Let You Help Them

Portrait of business executives talking on headset in office

Let’s say have a customer who right out of the gate demands to talk to a supervisor. You can take the three easy steps I teach in my workshops to keep some customers from escalating.

1. Recognize/Acknowledge

When a customer immediately asks to speak to a supervisor, not wanting to give you a chance to assist, you can Recognize emotions like this.

“I can certainly understand why you’d want to speak to my manager. I want to get to the bottom of this just as much as you do.”

By saying this, or something similar, you acknowledge the customer’s perceived need to talk to someone else.

2. Reframe

The First Step to De-escalating Is to Recognize The Customer’s Emotional Reaction


Let me ask you something. If you’re pissed off at your partner, and you’re yelling,
maybe even cursing, and in response they say…
How do you react?

Do you calm down?
Or does their silence make you more intense?

Me? I talk more. Louder. My attitude gets fierce.
What I don’t do is back down or tranquilize.

Turns out, if you give your customers the silent treatment when they’re going off on you, they can get fierce, too.

Here’s why.

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. 

How to De-escalate Using the Snatch and Flip Technique

And Boom.001

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.

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.