Customer Service De-escalation Training: 15 Techniques That Work

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Customer Service De-escalation Training: 15 Techniques That Work

Customer service de-escalation training is essential to any customer service position.

Customer service is more than just a job, it’s an art. And like all art, it takes practice to perfect. That’s why customer service de-escalation training is so important. It teaches you the skills and techniques you need to handle difficult customer situations without resorting to anger or aggression.

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What is de-escalation in customer service?

In customer service, de-escalation techniques are a set of skills and strategies used to defuse customer anger and prevent customer service situations from getting out of hand.

Customers may become angry for many different reasons. They may be unhappy with a product or service, they may be having a bad day, or they may be taking their frustration out on customer service representatives because they can’t take it out on the company or situation they’re actually upset about.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to be able to de-escalate customer anger before it gets out of control. Customer service de-escalation techniques can help you do that.

How do you de-escalate a customer?

When a customer is angry, upset, or frustrated, it’s important to stay calm and try to resolve the issue. Here are 15 customer service de-escalation techniques that can help diffuse a situation or improve your ability to handle future situations:

  1. Listen attentively
  2. Show empathy
  3. Avoid making assumptions
  4. Stay calm
  5. Use positive language
  6. Don’t take things personally
  7. Don’t make promises you can’t keep
  8. Find a solution together
  9. Thank the customer for their feedback
  10. Be proactive
  11. Follow up
  12. Review customer service de-escalation cases
  13. Automate customer service tasks
  14. Implement a customer feedback loop
  15. Engage in customer de-escalation training

1. Listen attentively

When someone is upset, they just want to be heard. So, the first step in de-escalating a customer is to simply listen to them. Pay attention to what they’re saying and try to understand their perspective. Repeat back what you’ve heard to ensure that you’ve understood their issue correctly.

You can use active listening techniques such as maintaining eye contact, nodding your head, and making small sounds to show that you’re engaged in the conversation.

2. Show empathy

Customers want to feel like you understand their problem and feel their pain. So, it’s important to show empathy when de-escalating a customer.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. When you show empathy, you’re essentially saying, “I can understand how you feel, and I’m here to help.”

You can show empathy by mirroring their emotions, rephrasing what they said, and by trying to see things from their perspective. For example, if they are angry, you can say something like, “I’m sorry that you’re feeling frustrated.”

You do not want to use phrases that devalue their emotions or experience, such as “calm down” or “relax.” This will only make the customer angrier.

3. Avoid making assumptions

When speaking with a customer, avoid making assumptions about their situation. This can often make the customer feel unheard and misunderstood. Instead, try to clarify the customer’s problem by asking open-ended questions.

Below are some examples of open-ended questions to get you started:

  • Can you tell me more about what happened?
  • I’m sorry to hear that, can you walk me through what happened step by step?
  • I can imagine that would be frustrating, can you tell me more about the situation?

4. Stay calm

The customer is upset, and it’s important to remain calm during the conversation. If you and the customer are both getting frustrated, it’s likely that the situation will escalate. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and try to remain calm and collected throughout the conversation.

This is easier said than done, though. Customer service de-escalation training can help you learn how to keep your cool under pressure. It can teach you techniques for remaining calm and collected, even when the customer is being difficult.

5. Use positive language

When speaking with an irate customer, it is important to use positive language. This means avoiding words and phrases that could make the customer feel defensive or uncomfortable. Consider using “Let’s take a look at the instructions together and see where we can improve” instead of “You didn’t follow the instructions.”

Try to rephrase sentences to remove words like “but,” “you,” and “why.” These words can make the customer feel attacked. For example, instead of saying “But you didn’t give me all the information I needed,” try “I wasn’t able to get all the information I needed. Can you please provide that for me?”

Using positive language will help the customer feel more comfortable and open to working with you to resolve the issue.

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6. Don’t take things personally

When a customer is upset, they’re not angry with you as an individual. They’re angry about the situation, and you just happen to be the person who they have to talk to in order to resolve it. It’s important to remember this, or you’ll start getting defensive and feeling attacked.

Remember: you are not your job, and the customer is not attacking you as a person. If you make it personal, you’re more likely to get defensive and less likely to be able to resolve the situation.

7. Don’t make promises you can’t keep

If a customer asks you for something that you know you can’t deliver, don’t promise to do it. This will only make the customer more upset when you can’t follow through. It’s better to be honest upfront and set realistic expectations. That way, the customer knows what to expect and won’t be disappointed later on.

Additionally, customers are often looking for signs that you are trustworthy. Making a promise that you can’t keep will damage that trust. Building rapport is difficult when the customer is already upset. But it is impossible when they don’t trust you.

8. Find a solution together

Working with the customer to find a solution to their problem is often the best way to diffuse a tense situation. Show that you’re on their side and want to help them by suggesting potential solutions together. This will help the customer feel heard and valued, and can also help you come up with a creative solution that satisfies both parties.

If they mention a way that the issue could be resolved, try to incorporate their suggestion into the final solution. This will make them feel like their opinion was valued and that you’re working together to find the best possible outcome.

9. Thank the customer for their feedback

No matter how upset a customer is, they’re still providing you with feedback that you can use to improve your business. Show them that you’re grateful for their input by thanking them for their feedback, even if it’s negative.

This also lets them know that you are trying to grow, even if they are not satisfied with the solution for this specific problem.

Loyal customers calling with a complaint are actually some of your best customers because they care enough to reach out and help you improve. So make sure you thank them for calling you. They could have canceled your services or spread bad rumors about your company instead!

10. Be proactive

The best way to de-escalate a customer service issue is to prevent it from happening in the first place. To do this, you need to be proactive.

This means being aware of customer triggers and taking steps to avoid them. Some of these triggers may include:

  • using negative language
  • appearing disinterested
  • not listening actively
  • being too informal
  • not being responsive to customer needs

One of the best ways to avoid customer service issues is to provide excellent customer service from the start. This means going above and beyond for your customers, every single time. It also means taking the time to train your employees

Being proactive also means having a clear escalation procedure in place so that issues can be dealt with quickly and efficiently. If you have a standard procedure for dealing with customer service issues, it will be easier to de-escalate them when they do occur.

11. Follow up

It’s important to follow up with customers after they’ve had time to calm down. This shows that you’re taking their concerns seriously and want to ensure that they’re satisfied with the resolution. You can do this by sending a personal email, calling them, or even reaching out on social media.

Make sure that you have provided at least some form of closure to the customer’s complaint before you follow up. This will help show that you’re truly committed to solving the issue.

12. Review customer service de-escalation cases

Review customer service de-escalation cases together with your team. Doing so can help customer service representatives see what worked in certain cases and what didn’t. It also allows customer service managers to give feedback and coaching in a constructive way.

Be sure to get permission from the representative involved before sharing the details of any customer service de-escalation case. This will help avoid any hurt feelings or misunderstandings.

13. Automate customer service tasks

One way to de-escalate customer service calls is to automate as many customer service tasks as possible. This can free up customer service representatives’ time so they can focus on more complex issues, and it can also help to resolve simple customer service issues more quickly.

Automating customer service tasks can also help to reduce the number of customer service calls overall.

There are a number of customer service tasks that can be automated, including:

  • Account creation and management
  • Order processing and tracking
  • Payment processing
  • Returns and refunds
  • Customer service inquiries and requests

14. Implement a customer feedback loop

Customer feedback is one of the most valuable tools you have at your disposal when it comes to customer service de-escalation. After every customer interaction, take a few moments to gather their feedback. This can be done through customer surveys, follow-up phone calls, or simply by asking them how they felt about their experience.

This feedback can be used to help you identify customer service de-escalation techniques that worked well and those that need improvement. It can also help you to better understand the customer’s needs and expectations.

15. Engage in customer de-escalation training

Most importantly, customer service de-escalation techniques need to be practiced regularly. The best way to do this is through customer service de-escalation training. This type of training can help customer service representatives to identify and respond to potential customer escalations. It can also help them to practice the de-escalation techniques that have been proven to be effective.

CustomersFirst Academy offers customer service de-escalation training that covers everything from customer communication skills to anger management. Our customer service de-escalation course is designed to help customer service representatives resolve customer complaints quickly and efficiently.

You can find this training as part of both our Handling Difficult Customers Course and our comprehensive Customer Service Training Program.

De-escalation script sample

Because customers are dynamic, it is impossible to know everything a customer may be upset about. Some common things customers may complain about include:

  • The product is not working
  • They were given the wrong product
  • They are not happy with the customer service they have received so far
  • They are not happy with the product they received
  • The customer is new and doesn’t understand how to use the product

When a customer begins to exhibit signs of anger or frustration, it is important to de-escalate the situation as soon as possible.

The exact script will vary widely depending on the industry you are in, the company’s voice and values, and the customer complaint. However, there are some customer service de-escalation phrases that can be universally applied to any customer service situation.

Customer service de-escalation phrases

Sample customer service de-escalation phrases:

“I’m sorry to hear that you’re not happy with [the product or service] you received. Can you tell me what the issue is?”

“That sounds frustrating. Let’s see if we can figure this out together.”

“I’m sorry that you’re not happy with the customer service you’ve received so far. Can you tell me what the issue is?”

“I would like to find a solution to your problem. Can you give me some more details?”

“It sounds like you’re feeling frustrated. Let’s see if we can figure this out together.”

“Thank you for bringing this to our attention.”

By using some of the phrases above, you can effectively de-escalate customer complaints and help to resolve the issue at hand.

It’s also important to avoid customer service de-escalation phrases that might make the situation worse. Here are some customer service de-escalation phrases to avoid:

“There’s nothing I can do.”

“That’s not my department.”

“I don’t know.”

“That’s our policy.”

“It’s not my fault.”

When a customer is upset, the last thing they want to hear is that there’s nothing the customer service representative can do to help them. Instead, focus on what you can do to help resolve the issue. If you need to escalate the issue to another department, let the customer know that you will do everything you can to help resolve their complaint.

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Customer service de-escalation email

Here is a customer service de-escalation email template that you can use the next time you need to resolve a customer complaint:

“Hi ____,

I’m sorry to hear that you’re not happy with your recent [purchase/experience]. I can understand how that would be very frustrating. 

[ask specific questions that indicate you read the message they sent you originally to clarify information]

I would love to help solve this problem for you.

Thank you, ____”

By using the customer service de-escalation email template above, you can effectively communicate with customers and help to resolve their complaints.

Where to find customer service de-escalation training

The truth is, you cannot possibly learn all you need to know about customer service de-escalation from one article. The best way to learn is through direct experience, either by working with a customer service team or by taking courses offered by customer service experts.

When looking for the best customer service de-escalation training, here are a few things to consider:

  • What kinds of customer complaints do or will I commonly experience in my customer service job?
  • Does the training include real-life examples or scenarios?
  • Is the course offered online?
  • Is the instructor experienced in customer service?
  • Does the training cover a variety of customer service scenarios?

Ready to get started?

CustomersFirst Academy offers many different levels of training to help you succeed in your customer service career. Check out the full list of training programs and courses below. They each come with customer service de-escalation training and techniques to help you better understand and handle customer complaints.

Customer Service Training for Individuals:

Customer Service Team Training for Businesses:

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