This is How You Reduce Escalations to Supervisors


As I prepare for a workshop for a new client in Upstate New York, let me give you three things you can do to help your team get angry customers to back down, techniques right out of my De-escalation Training.

One. Coach Your Team to Acknowledge Customer Concern

When staff acknowledges how hard things are for customers, they can foster rapport and make connections. Acknowledging concern links the communication chain with customers and makes it easier for employees to create calm, reframe conversations, and move interactions toward closure. 

Coach staff to acknowledge concern with statements like

  • “I realize how frustrating this is for you.”
  • “I realize it’s upsetting to hear that you’ll have to retake your exam and apply for a new license, particularly because you need it right now.” “I can see your point on that.”

Two. Guide Your Team to Reframe Conversations (So they can preempt escalations) 

Employees can preempt escalations to managers by proactively reframing conversations. Remind staff to reframe interactions with challenging consumers by first acknowledging concern and then focusing on moving the customer from a negative problem position to looking at how to solve the issue. These phrases help staff reframe interactions.

  • “We want you to get your license renewed as much as you do.”
  • “I can see your point. Let’s look at what you can do to get your license renewed as quickly as possible.”
  • “I understand your concern. Let’s look and see what needs to happen for you to get your license.”

Three. Hold Employees Accountable for Unnecessary Escalations

When managers find escalated calls could have easily been handled by staff, set aside time to talk to staff about those conversations. Pull up the call in question if you record employees’ calls with customers. Sit down with the employee, play the call, and discuss what the employee might have done to preempt an escalation.

An excellent way to discuss unnecessary escalation over a recorded call is to ask the employee,  

  1. “How did that call feel to you?”
  2. “Why do you think the interaction escalated?”
  3. “Can you pinpoint the moment when the conversation got beyond your control?”
  4. “What could you have done to preempt an escalation to a manager?”


If my three tips help you, that makes me happy. If you need more help with De-escalation or customer service soft skills, check out my training programs.

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

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