The key role of de-escalation on customer service jobs

Customer service is a challenging and stressful job. You have to be nice to people who are not nice to you. You have to remain calm when customers are upset.

Retail jobs involve direct interactions with customers, co-workers, and managers daily. If you own a retail store, you must choose employees who perform well under pressure. If your employees work in a call center, your coworkers will come from many different cultural backgrounds and you may deal with over a hundred calls a day.

Fortunately, some companies offer specialized training for customer service representatives. Your employees can learn de-escalation methods that will help them deal with upset customers as well as upset coworkers.

The key role of de-escalation training is to create a more pleasant experience for your customers and a safer and less stressful work environment for your employees. 

De-escalation training will help the members of your team communicate better. It will keep them safe from potentially violent situations, and it will protect your company legally. 

Skills taught during de-escalation

When your employees take de-escalation training, they will learn how to handle conflicts in both group and individual settings. 

When a person calls a customer service line, they may already be angry. They may start yelling before the CSR can even speak. A customer service representative who has had de-escalation training will be able to calm the customer down by using troubleshooting skills.

If a customer is not happy with the way a call is handled, they will often ask to speak to a supervisor. If the supervisor cannot help them, they might make a complaint to the Better Business Bureau or to the state attorney general. When this happens, your entire organization’s reputation may be at stake. A disgruntled customer might leave you a bad online review. Online reviews are very important to obtaining new customers nowadays.

How customer service de-escalation training is unique

There are several different kinds of de-escalation training. One of the most common is that which is given to law enforcement officers and to people in the military to de-escalate potentially violent situations.

In the case of a violent person, time is of the essence. It is important to talk them down quickly and calmly for the safety of other people.

If a customer is simply angry and frustrated, A customer service representative trained in de-escalation will take all the time they need to de-escalate the situation. 

A customer service representative should carefully listen to everything a client has to say before they respond at all. If a customer does not get to tell their whole story, they will feel put on the defensive. They may feel that the customer service representative is condescending to them, and that will only make them more upset.

Commonly used de-escalation techniques for customer service representatives

In addition to listening, there are a few common techniques that customer service representatives can use when dealing with an upset customer. 

De-escalation vocabulary

When your customer service representatives want to calm an upset customer, there are certain words that they should avoid using. The customer is relying on your CSRs to be professionals with advanced levels of knowledge about company policies. There are certain phrases they should never use:

  • I don’t know.
  • I can’t help you if you don’t calm down.
  • I am going to put you on hold.
  • We can’t do anything about it.
  • What are you wanting us to do?
  • I will have to end the call if you do not lower your voice.
  • Unfortunately, that is not my job.
  • I can let you speak to a supervisor.

Instead of telling a customer that they don’t know the answer to a question, they should tell them that they will find out the answer to the inquiry. They should always use their own resources to figure out a solution to a problem before asking their supervisor.  

Being told that a CSR does not know the answer to a question and cannot find out will do nothing to instill confidence in the customer. Being transferred immediately to a supervisor will only make the customer think your CSRs are not well-trained.

When a CSR tells a customer to calm down, the customer may feel the customer service representative is treating them like an employee or a child. It is important to speak to them in a calm and even tone. Your CSRs should always let the customer know that they understand how frustrating the situation is. 

When they attend the escalation training, customer service representatives will learn to use phrases that will make the customer feel comforted and respected. 

Instead of telling a customer to calm down, a trained CSR will thank the customer for their patients and for bearing with them while they find a solution to the problem. They should also thank the customer for their feedback.

A CSR should never blatantly tell a customer that they cannot help them or that the problem isn’t handled by their department. Instead, they should take charge of the call and let them know that they will do everything they can to help them, including putting them in touch with the correct person to speak to.

If it is necessary to have another person handle an issue when the customer is on the phone, the customer should be warm-transferred to the person who can help them. The customer should never have to re-explain the situation. When your CSRs have to transfer a call, the agent should have made the teammate they are transferring the call to fully aware of the issue. 

Find a realistic way to solve the problem

One very effective de-escalation technique is to solve the customer’s problem for them. Your CSR should offer the most realistic solution to the problem. For example, if you provide internet service and the customer is calling in because their internet does not work, the customer should be offered the first available repair appointment.

If this will not work for them, you may want to figure out if another customer is willing to reschedule their appointment. If that will not work, you can offer the customer financial compensation.

Never make unrealistic promises

When a customer is upset, they may threaten a lawsuit and make unrealistic demands. It is tempting to promise to give them what they want. If you tell an upset customer that they will get everything they want only to admit later that it is not true, the customer will ultimately become more upset. 

Use neutral body language

One of the most important things a customer service representative will learn is how to keep their body language neutral. 

If your customer service representatives deal with your patrons in person, they may end up having an upset customer scream in their face. Your CSRs will have to maintain their decorum and help the customer. 

De-escalation training will teach participants helpful body language that will subdue a customer rather than aggravate them. It is never a good idea to stand with your arms crossed or stand too close to the customer. Standing back from the customer with an open stance is non-threatening. It shows an openness to the customer that they will appreciate.

Show empathy 

One of the best ways a CSR can calm another person down is just instinctive. When a customer complains about a problem that they have with the company, the CSR might calm the situation by telling the customer about a time when they felt frustrated with a company they have dealt with.

For example, if you run a restaurant and a patron complains about the service being slow, the customer service representative can tell a story from their life about how slow service ruined their day or caused them great inconvenience. 

Speak clearly

When your CSRs talk to a customer, it should be with professional confidence. They should never mumble or stammer. However, they should not sound angry or raise their voice. 

An exceptional de-escalation training class will include elocution lessons. It also helps to have your employees practice dealing with customers amongst themselves. 

What to look for in a de-escalation company

The de-escalation company you select should give you several different options for classes. Day-long seminars work best for some companies, while weekly classes work best for others. Classes offered over Zoom or a similar platform will work best for customer service representatives who work primarily from home.

Make sure the instructors have proper training. They should have degrees from legitimate universities and not just certificates from training programs. They should have years of experience in de-escalation and conflict resolution. Look for a program that has trainers with real-world experience.

The reason you have customer service representatives is to make the experience of your patrons seamless. This will only work if your CSRs can handle a crisis. When your CSRs have de-escalation training, your online ratings will increase, and your customers will stick around for a long time.