My first job was at Kmart. I was 16. One night I stood less than two feet away from an angry customer who slapped my co-worker during a Blue-Light Special. The slap turned into a full-on fight – over a denied merchandise return. Kmart showed me how quickly situations can escalate and how challenging customers can be. And in a lot of ways, my work in retail taught me what not to do in intense interactions.
I didn’t intentionally decide to make a career in customer service, but over the years, that’s precisely what happened. While earning my bachelor’s degree in Psychology, I worked for Walmart and JC Penney. By the time I finished college, I had six years of customer service experience. This resume landed me a job as Global Consumer Affairs Manager at the Thrifty Rent-a-Car System headquarters while I finished my master’s degree in Human Relations. At Thrifty, I ran a call center that handled nothing but complaints.
Enter Aikido. Over pizza and our Under Siege Blockbuster movie rental, my husband told me about the martial art Aikido. He talked about how people used principles of Aikido to de-escalate verbal conflicts. I was fascinated from the jump. The next day I Googled Aikido and found teachers using it to diffuse tension with students and parents. Counselors taught youth to use Aikido as a conflict resolution tool. People in many fields used Aikido to de-escalate. I knew right away that I’d ultimately teach my staff verbal Aikido. But I had to learn it first.
For the next 210 days, I studied Aikido. Back then, there were no Aikido classes in Tulsa, where I live. So, I researched it. I read books and articles on verbal Aikido. I met with Aikido masters when I traveled, and I watched videos and movies that featured Aikido. I discovered principles like, “force doesn’t meet force,” and the art of redirecting anger. I was on to something.
My first Verbal Aikido workshop was in 1999 for my call center agents. Twenty-seven days after the first training, I saw results.
- Average call handling time dropped by almost 2 minutes (104 seconds) – We know this was because our agents were able to get customers to cut to the chase and they remained in control of the call
- Escalations took a nosedive. We didn’t have hard numbers for escalations, but the supervisor was much freer because she wasn’t spending as much time talking to customers who escalated
- Hold times were reduced by 30% because call talk time was shorter and agents spent less time trying to reach the supervisor for escalated calls
I’m still conducting these hands-on workshops, with the same success. I’ve delivered my Verbal Aikido workshop to McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay, Nationwide Insurance, Ally Bank, Johnson & Johnson, and Verizon Wireless.
Today I call my Verbal Aikido training the 3R De-escalation Method. (I simplified the initial 10 principles down to three easy-to-apply steps.) Client results show my 3R Model is the perfect approach to de-escalating intense interactions.
I built Myra Golden Seminars to help frontline customer service professionals redirect intense interactions, regain control, and restore customer confidence after a service issue. Over the years, we’ve expanded our service offerings.
We’re now known our onsite and online classes that improve the sound, flow, and feel of customer interactions –so that your employees go back to work fully prepared and inspired to express the soul of your brand and assured in their ability to handle challenging customers.
For the left-brainers who don’t like stories and long narrative, Here’s the “formal” bio.
Myra Golden is the founder of Myra Golden Seminars, LLC. She is a long time speaker and training partner to many Fortune 500 companies across the nation. She creates fun and engaging classes to teach her clients to give their customers the best possible experience.
Myra’s engaging approach to customer service training is loved by her clients. Many of her clients rave about her workshops, saying things like:
“I was very pleased with Myra’s presentation. But even more so, I was left with a sense of new energy and desire to put her recommendations to use. I can’t wait for Monday!” –– TIM O’LAUGHLIN, THE COCA-COLA COMPANY
Her impressive resume includes many of the world’s biggest companies, like:
And many more…
Myra has both her bachelor’s degree in psychology and her master’s degree in human relations, which she earned from the University of Oklahoma.
Before the start of Myra Golden Seminars—which came to be in 1999—Myra worked at Thrifty Car Rental as the Global Head of Consumer Affairs. Travel Agent Magazine hailed Myra a Top 100 Rising Star for leading her team to unprecedented customer recovery and customer loyalty in the hospitality industry.
When she’s not lighting up the service world, Myra is likely reading a book that makes her see differently, sipping green tea, or writing poetry.