Three Proactive Things You Can Do to Pre-empt an Escalation with a Customer

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Tomorrow morning I’m headed to Phoenix to deliver a workshop at the Salesforce Trailblazers for the Future Conference. I booked an extra night at the Arizona Biltmore just because I wanted some “me time” for relaxation and reading. I do this a lot, adding a day or two on to a business trip to chill, explore, and enjoy local restaurants. Do you take time just for you?

Before I wrap things up in my office today and prepare for tomorrow’s early flight, I’m sharing with you three things you can do to pre-empt an escalation with a customer. These tips will help you handle interactions in such a way that you significantly minimize the chance of a customer becoming so incensed that they feel they have to talk to a supervisor.

1. Reflect Your Brand Promise

One of my clients is a furniture protection plan company. A point of upset for a lot of their customers is when customers discover that the damage to their furniture is not covered under warranty. Customers get intensely agitated because they feel what they purchased is not the same thing as the service they are receiving. I encouraged agents in this company to reflect the brand promise in every interaction. I had them focus on explaining first what the protection plan did cover, and then by quickly going over a few of the many benefits of the plan.

Instead of merely telling the customer that their damage was not covered, I instructed agents to say something like,

“You have an excellent plan here. It covers such things as scratches and broken pieces. In this case, we do not cover discoloration of the leather, as fading is a natural occurrence that comes from body oils and usage. If anything else should come up, though, please give us a call, and we’ll be happy to look into things for you.”

Reflecting the brand promise, in this situation, is reminding the customer of the many benefits the protection plan does offer, and by serving customers with a friendly demeanor.

2. Don’t Push

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De-escalate Your Most Demanding and Challenging Customers In 3 Steps

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In a few weeks, I’ll be delivering my popular 3-Step De-escalation Workshop at Customer Contact Week in Las Vegas. Attendees in my session will learn precisely how to de-escalate with extremely challenging customers. If you’re in the Las Vegas area on June 21, check out my course and please say hello to me before or after the workshop.

Today I’m giving you a preview of the three steps I’ll be sharing in-depth at the Customer Contact Week Conference. My de-escalation steps are Respond, Reframe, and Resolve.

Step 1: Respond

Continue reading “De-escalate Your Most Demanding and Challenging Customers In 3 Steps”

This Is How You Get Customers To Accept Your Word As Final

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Do you find it difficult to get customers to accept your word as final? Like, do they just come back and ask their question another way. Or even better, do they ask to talk to your manager?

The thing is, we all need to get better at making our answer the final answer. It’s pretty easy to give a firm answer when you have the right approach.

Making your answer the final answer comes down to two things.

You must be assertive, and you must be direct. I talk about how to make your answer the definitive solution in the short video below.

In the video I made for you, I share an example one of my clients shared with me. He worked on the escalation team for a Timeshare company. He had to talk to customers who were ready to get rid of their timeshare for one reason or another but were told they couldn’t unload that mortgage because the contract was for life. It lived on even after the owner died.

I have a module dedicated to how to make your word the definitive answer in my De-escalation Online Course, which is part of my Customer Service eLearning suite. If you or your employees struggle at all with how to get challenging customers to back downtake a look at my De-escalation Training Course.

I share my client’s approach to getting his timeshare customers to accept his no as the final answer every single time. Hint: He did it by being assertive and direct. Watch my video to learn how to get your customers to accept your word as final.

So, again, if you or your employees struggle at all with how to get challenging customers to back downtake a look at my De-escalation Training Course.

7 Things You Can Say to Gain Control with Challenging Customers

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If you find it difficult to get your customer to stop telling you the story of just how inconvenienced they were, or are, and to stop rambling on about the problem, it’s likely because the customer is stuck in the past.

You’re going to have to reframe the issue in the customer’s mind. That is, you must strategically move your customer out of a past problem to a focus on the present so that you can offer a solution. Your job, in essence, is to get the customer to move on.

Reframing statements are fantastic in getting the customer to move forward. Reframing does two things for you. First, it acknowledges your customer’s biggest concern. You empathize. Secondly, it ushers in the solution phase of problem resolution.

Here are seven reframing statements that recognize customer concern and help customers move on. Continue reading “7 Things You Can Say to Gain Control with Challenging Customers”

3 Expert Tips to Pre-empt an Escalation with a Customer

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I remember being a new manager preparing to deliver bad news to a group of executives. I was nervous, fearing I would get questions I couldn’t answer and thinking I’d get slammed in the meeting. My boss, the executive vice president of the company, helped me prepare for the meeting.

“Here’s the strategy you use. You go in there and answer their every question before they even have a chance to ask you anything. This is what politicians, CEOs, and law enforcement officers do in every high-pressure press conference.” And then he walked me through the 3 steps that politicians and CEOs use. We even sat there and role-played in his office.

Three weeks later, I delivered the dim news to a group of 68 executives, all men. And it went well. To my shock and relief, there were no flaring tempers and no questions I couldn’t easily handle. There were very few questions. Using the 3 steps my boss had shared with me, I was able to pre-empt an escalation. Thank God!

Thrilled with the results I got in that meeting, I shared the 3 steps with my employees who worked in customer care. I thought the steps could help them pre-empt escalations with our demanding customers, and they did!

In this article, I’m going to share with you the 3 steps politicians and CEOs use to pre-empt an escalation—the same 3 steps my employees used to successfully pre-empt escalations to supervisors and to pre-empt escalations in aggression. Using these steps, you’ll be able to create calm, prevent an escalation, and be in complete control with demanding customers.

Here are the 3 steps:

Continue reading “3 Expert Tips to Pre-empt an Escalation with a Customer”

Make Sure Your Language Doesn’t Invite Escalation

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I blocked off yesterday afternoon to listen to a random sample of recorded phone calls between customer service representatives and customers (patients and providers) for my client. I’m preparing to deliver a full-day De-escalation workshop to this group in a couple of weeks.

One of the things I noticed is that some of the employees have a tendency to use language that opens the door for escalations. It’s unintentional. I’m sure of that. The workers are overwhelmed, if not stressed. Their customers can be difficult. To try to control conversations, provoking language is sometimes used. I hear things like: Continue reading “Make Sure Your Language Doesn’t Invite Escalation”