A 3-Step Guide to Elegantly Managing Complex Interactions with Customers

call control customer service de-escalation de-escalation how to handle difficult customers

No matter how much we wish we could, we can only sometimes resolve every customer's problem. We might not have the answers. Sometimes, we have trouble understanding what the customer wants. Communication can be a barrier. The great news is that we can significantly impact how our customers perceive us in these situations based on our communication.


When you don't have answers, struggle to understand what your customer needs, or when what the customer wants is impossible to do, you can still speak with confidence and move things forward. I want you to follow three steps to recover gracefully from problems and sound confident and in control. 



Empathize with your customers. The customer may be upset or frustrated, and it's necessary to acknowledge their feelings. Your attitude should be regretful and concerned. For example, "I'm sorry, I wasn't clear. Let me explain this another way." or, "I realize this whole thing is frustrating for you."



When you make a mistake, as we all do, own it. Customers appreciate when you admit fault and work to make things right. Another benefit of being transparent after mistakes is you preempt an escalation. Because you don't resist, your customer isn't likely to give energy to being angry or argumentative. You've owned the issue and are now moving to the next steps. 


Manage Expectations

I was chatting with a company, working through a complex problem. The chat agent typed, "I'm consulting with one of my colleagues, and this may take several minutes." After seven or eight minutes, the agent returned to explain, "Thanks for your patience. This is taking longer than expected, but I want you to know I'm still here."  


Keep your customers updated, and you'll manage expectations and reduce frustration. 


You'll have complex issues, experience communication barriers, and make mistakes. But when you show empathy, talk with transparency, and manage expectations, you'll keep things from spiraling out of control. 


Continue the Conversation with Me?


For more help managing challenging interactions, check out my LinkedIn Learning courses.


Creating Positive Conversations with Challenging Customers


Positively prime customers from Creating Positive Conversations with Challenging Customers by Myra Golden

De-Escalating Conversations for Customer Service


When a customer asks for a manager from De-Escalating Conversations for Customer Service by Myra Golden


Customer Service: Call Control Strategies


The snatch-and-flip call control strategy from Customer Service: Call Control Strategies by Myra Golden

Check Out Our Most Popular Training - De-escalation Academy!

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