Do These Three Things to De-escalate Immediately with Customers

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I overheard one of my employees saying to an upset customer, “Sir, I work in our corporate office. I had nothing to do with the problem you’re talking about.”

She attempted to get the customer to calm down. But you know what? That didn’t calm the customer. Her words made the customer even more intense.

I pulled my employee aside, and I explained to her that she was escalating the situation with the very words she hoped would get the customer to back down.

The thing is, with de-escalation you have to take action in the present to move toward a calmer state, and toward a solution. You can’t fight fire with fire like my employee was trying to do, you have to be the water that puts the fire out.

De-escalation requires you do three things. You have to create calm with a customer who is agitated; you need to assertively take charge of the situation to pre-empt more intense emotion, and, you must move the interaction forward.

1. Create Calm

Continue reading “Do These Three Things to De-escalate Immediately with Customers”

Do You Have Trouble De-escalating Angry Customers? If So, Try This.

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Four minutes into the call and I could see I was heading for trouble. The customer was a storyteller and a rambler. Plus, she was mad. She’d already spoken to an employee in the field and to one of my employees at the corporate office. Now the call had come to me. I got the call literally just as I was picking up my book to head to the park to enjoy a quick lunch and hopefully a couple of chapters of my novel.

The problem was easy enough. The customer’s rental car had broken down. That happens every day in the world of car rentals. Our solution to this problem is always swift: we get a replacement car out to the customer, reimburse any expenses and tow back the original rental.

But with this customer, the conversation was anything but easy. She kept rambling on, rehashing her frustration, making sure I knew how difficult it was to be stranded on the side of the interstate with 3 small children. If I was going to help the customer and have any shot at enjoying my lunch and a little reading, I had to resolve the problem and wrap up the call quickly.

So, here’s what I did. I used what Robert Bacal, a brilliant consultant, calls the topic-grab approach. The topic-grab approach involves listening carefully to your upset customer and then taking something they’ve said (grabbing a topic) and commenting on it or asking a question about it. This is especially effective if you can express empathy on the topic you “grab.” Continue reading “Do You Have Trouble De-escalating Angry Customers? If So, Try This.”