De-escalating customer service conflicts can help you satisfy more customers. A strong de-escalation strategy can support your overall customer service strategy by helping reps learn how to deal with certain customers based on a person's feelings and their experience with a product or service.
Next time you deal with an angry customer, try these de-escalation techniques:
Remain calm and composed
When someone is angry or yelling, you should never mirror their tone or body language because it can escalate the situation. The goal is to de-escalate the situation by easing the intensity of their reaction or feelings. Staying calm and composed during interactions with an angry customer will make the business appear more professional.
You should try to avoid personalization of customer anger. Instead of concerning yourself with how a customer is acting or speaking to you, remain neutral and try to solve their problem. They're angry because their problem isn't solved, so the best way to reduce their anger is to find a resolution.
If handling a customer's complaint in person, you should always keep your body language neutral and respect their personal space.
Active listening and empathy
Active listening and empathy can go a long way in customer service. Your customers want to know your business cares about them. These individuals spend their hard-earned money on your products and services, so you should always give them your undivided attention. Acknowledging a person's feelings and frustrations tells them you understand their problem and want to help.
You should always use empathetic language and tone. We're not saying you should apologize for everything that upsets a customer, but you should be able to put yourself in their shoes to find the best resolution possible.
Effective communication strategies
Effective communication strategies can quickly de-escalate a situation with an angry or upset customer. Raising your voice if a customer is yelling at you is never good business practice. Instead, let them yell, listen to them, and wait for them to stop talking before you try to say anything. This strategy will allow them to collect their thoughts, especially after an outburst.
Raising your voice to customers or mirroring their body language will likely have the opposite effect and can worsen the situation. If you act equally as upset as your customers, they won't be willing to give you the opportunity to resolve their issues.
Instead, effective communication strategies like active listening and waiting for the customer to become silent before speaking can help you more easily address their complaints and work toward a resolution.
When speaking to customers, you should use clear, concise language and avoid any confrontational or defensive responses. This can be challenging for business owners who take great pride in their business. Being defensive only adds fuel to the fire. Instead, you should offer reassurances and solutions. Tell your customers what you're going to do to solve their problems, and set expectations for what comes next.
Problem-solving and finding common ground
The main reason why a situation escalates is that a business isn't showing empathy or offering a resolution. The first step to solving a customer complaint is identifying the root cause of their anger or dissatisfaction. If a customer contacts you, their complaint may be clear or unclear. For instance, they may be facing delivery issues, or they may not know how to use the product properly.
If you're unclear about what the issue is, you can ask open-ended questions and let them explain. Wait for the customer to become silent for a few moments before asking another question or trying to resolve the issue.
The main goal at this point is to collaborate with the customer to find a solution. You can offer them multiple options. If their product was delivered broken, you can offer to refund them or replace it.
Meanwhile, if they're unhappy with the quality of a product that you stand by, you can offer to replace it or give them store credit. In any case, you should have a clear returns policy on your website or in stores that helps them understand what their choices might be.
You may have to offer alternatives or compromises to de-escalate some types of customer issues. Even if your business doesn't offer refunds after a certain period, you may have to be flexible with some customers to keep them satisfied or risk losing them forever.
Timely follow-up and resolution
Customers want resolutions, and they want them fast. Providing updates and progress reports to keep them in the loop as to what's happening to ensure their issues are resolved quickly will ease some of the tension between them and your business.
At the same time, you should do everything possible to promptly resolve their concern. Having protocols in place for handling common complaints and answering challenging questions can be helpful because it means less time getting approval from the business owner or another manager just to handle one customer's complaint.
In some cases, you may need to offer compensation or gestures of goodwill when appropriate. Many businesses offer free returns and refunds within a certain period with no questions asked. Offering freebies, refunds, and easy returns can quickly decrease conflict.
Preventing future escalations
Analyzing the root causes of customer escalations can help you learn how to avoid them in the first place. No business wants angry customers. Luckily, there are several customer service strategies that help customer service representatives deal with upset customers before they become angry.
Enhancing customer support systems and procedures can help you avoid unnecessary altercations and ensure every customer walks away happy. Support your customer service initiatives with Mailchimp's CRM marketing software to help you manage and build customer relationships.