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Extinguishing Customer Service Fires

Anyone working in customer service knows that concerned or dissatisfied clients will sometimes turn up the heat when seeking support or a resolution. A true professional knows that how they handle such situations can make or break the business-client relationship. In this blog, we discuss de-escalation techniques you can use in your day-to-day duties to beat the heat and extinguish those fires!

What is De-escalation?

De-escalation is a pattern of behavior(s) aimed at easing the intensity of a situation or calming down another individual—in this case a displeased client. This skill is a must-have in the customer support world. It calms down the customer, which the first step to successfully resolving any problem they may have. 

Why is De-escalation Important for Customer Satisfaction? 

Any person with customer service experience knows it’s common to come across a dissatisfied and frustrated customer. In extreme cases, this frustration turns into a tirade of mean treatment and unreasonable behavior that can leave a professional feeling scorched. Knowing how to handle these situations successfully is the determining factor when it comes to gaining or losing a loyal customer. 

In theory, all these customers want is accurate information and a hero to lead them down the right path to a timely solution. However, it takes more than that to please a client. Providing correct information and timely results are just the tip of the iceberg. It is also important to be empathetic and make your customer feel understood and valued. 

De-escalation Techniques for Customer Service

De-escalation techniques are methods used by professionals to reduce, prevent or resolve the escalation of conflicts. Many of these strategies involve “emotional labor” on the professional’s behalf, with them having the ability to manage and regulate their own emotions and the clients, in order to provide a resolution. The techniques discussed below may help you address complaints effectively and keep clients calm as you try to support them:

1. Stay Confident

As you’re having a conversation with a client, you should always try to stay confident in your abilities. When you feel empowered and carry yourself confidently, it’s more likely that a customer will be respectful and act accordingly.

2. Keep Cool & Calm

Remaining calm and professional throughout the entire conversation is key. If you’re calm and don’t let the client’s anger get to you, they will start calming down as well. Over time, this gives you the chance to calm the customer down completely.

3. Actively Listen Without Interruption

It’s crucial to let upset customers say everything they need to say. When someone contacts customer service, they want you to hear them out. Active listening means using techniques to show the customer that you are focused on what they are saying. One example is to paraphrase their words by saying "If I understood you correctly, you said___"  Active listening is an important soft skill to show the customer that they are being heard.

4. Display Empathy

Even if something doesn’t seem important to you, it is to your customer. They are reaching out to you for help because it's important to them. Be empathetic. Assure them that everything is going to be resolved and that their needs are going to be met. Engaging with someone who has an empathetic attitude is going to help a frustrated client express their dissatisfaction in a calmer manner.

5. Apologize

Apologizing is one of the most underrated de-escalation techniques. You can do this by offering a simple and straightforward apology such as “I’m so sorry to hear about your experience. Let’s see what solution we can come up with so this doesn’t happen again.” This can help customers feel understood in their dissatisfaction and they may be more likely to return to your business in the future.

6. No Promises, No Arguing & Don’t Say “No”

As much as you want to reassure the client their issue will be resolved, making a promise is not the way to do it. While you’re at it, you should never use negating sentences either. “I don’t know”, “I cannot”, and “It’s not within my power” are just a few phrases that are sure to add fuel to the fire. For this reason, it’s best to avoid such phrases–especially when the reputation of your company is heavily dependent on your skills.

7. Suggest Realistic Solutions

Most often customers want to know what can be done. A good approach is to first, confirm you fully understand the issue a customer is having. Next, show empathy. Then, give a realistic solution. Explain what you can do for the customer right away, then explain what steps are going to be taken if the issue requires the attention of a supervisor. Keep in mind it’s important to provide additional status updates if the case was escalated, and if the issue is going to take a few days to be resolved.

Need Some Support?

Exceeding expectations is a key element of customer service. This can increase customer satisfaction and reduce the likelihood of frequent fires. At ProFromGo we work hard to surpass customer expectations and to build healthy business-client relationships. One of the ways we do this is by helping our clients implement HubSpot’s Service Hub. This customer service tool will reduce the likelihood of an upset customer due to a delay in your response or not having the full picture. Contact us today if you’re interested in a platform that can tell you everything you need to know about the person behind the support request, their organization, and their history with your company on one screen.

Erica Follette
About the Author
Erica is a Content and Customer Service Specialist at Vendilli. In her free time, you can find Erica binge watching Netflix shows, practicing martial arts, drinking way too much coffee or tending to the needs of her spoiled dog and reptiles.
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