19 Effective Strategies for De-Escalation

Escalation is a rapid increase or severity of growth in conflict. Effective conflict resolution involves de-escalation in areas of dissatisfied customers or business colleges, dealing with family issues, traumatic situations, potential violent encounters or countless other stressful interactions.

Here is a list of ways to help de-escalate conflict:

Remain positive. Negativity is fought with optimism. Dealing with someone who is frustrated or unhappy necessitates a positive reaction. It’s hard to be unpleasant or project a negative attitude toward someone who is offering you positive energy. Be the change. That is perhaps why Elbert Hubbard remarked, “We awaken in others the same attitude of mind we hold toward them.”

Guide problem solving. When complaints arise, the focus ought to be on solutions to take care of the problem. Offering a selection of ways to remedy the complaint for the customer to choose from is paramount. Many of the complaints a customer has are the same other customers experience. What handful of solutions can you offer to your customer to straighten out their complaint?

Be professional. Maintain your composure. Sometimes people instigating conflict are watching to see if you flinch; if you take the bait to enter into a combative situation. This means no name calling, no swearing, no raising your voice, no personal attacks and no threatening.

Allow your customer to vent. That’s right! Don’t cut them off when they are sharing their experience. Sometimes, all a customer needs is to blow off some steam. If you don’t allow for the release it can continue to fester. Most times, they just want someone to know what they are feeling. This does not mean that you have to take personal attacks or abusive comments, though.

Show empathy. Sympathy means that you feel sorry for someone, while empathy means that you understand the experience. Let customers know that you understand the frustrations of the occurrence.

Don’t be dismissive. Disdain for what a customer is sharing will only infuriate the situation. Disregarding a perspective of another person fosters contempt, which rarely builds a positive relationship. Let them know that you genuinely respect their opinion.

Identify and define the problem. Sometimes customers are unable to correctly articulate their dissatisfaction. A major role in solving a problem is to uncover exactly what the problem is. If you fail to uncover it, you might be spending time on solving a problem that is not a problem at all.

Take a deep breath. Breathing helps you to maintain a calmer demeanor. We tend to breathe in a shallow or restrictive manner when we are anxious or feeling stressed. This tip can be practiced throughout the day or especially when confronted with a tense situation.

Don’t take it personal. Your goal is to make the customer happy about doing business with you and the company that you represent. A good portion of the time, customers are not attacking you, but rather the experience they are having with the company.

Reassure a resolution. Let the person you are communicating with know that you intend to solve the complaint. If the customer continues to complain, politely return to the resolution and how you are going to fix it.

Avoid the need to be right. The customer is not always right, but they are right in their personal perception. If a customer orders a cheeseburger and you deliver a chicken sandwich, don’t argue with them. Just replace it.

Take a respite. Frustration can take its toll. Taking a break or walking away from the grind is needed. During your day, make the time to take time for yourself. Use scheduled breaks to stop working on problems and issues. Step away to gain inner solace and to recharge yourself.

Listen more than you talk. The best communicators are great listeners, not talkers. Few people understand this basic principle. To improve your interactions with customers, or anyone for that matter, be a good listener. Follow the wisdom of this Native American proverb, “Listen, or your tongue will make you deaf.”

Avoid re-living negative experiences. Okay, your interaction with a customer was not so pleasant. Since you lived it once, there is little reason to experience it again unless it will enable you to better handle a similar experience again in the future. No need to continually share with family and friends your unpleasant interaction. Let it go. Move on.

Use positive closing language. Let the customer know you appreciate them. Phrases that can be helpful are: “We value you as a customer and want to help, thank you for bringing this to our attention”, “We appreciate you and your business, thank you.” Close the conversation on a positive note.

Adhere to a policy of honesty. Don’t lie. Be honest in your approach. Avoid letting the customer pressure you into providing false information or unrealistic expectations. Do your best to offer attainable solutions in what you can provide.

Send a thank you note. Written communication can have more power than verbal communication. Retaining a customer can cost as little as a Postal Stamp and a few written words of acknowledgment and appreciation of their patronage.

Acknowledge you will share feedback. Serving customers does not mean you set the delivery process of products and services. Generally company executives, managers and supervisors do. If the offering is not aligned with the customer’s expectation, inform the patron that you will share their feedback with management to correct the problem.

Offer a recovery token. Sometimes the way to turn around a dissatisfied customer is to offer a recovery token. This can be accomplished by offering to pay for shipping charges, waiving bank fees, or waiving a partial payment on services rendered. It can also be a token such as a free beverage or appetizer, or a small gift that you toss in with a purchase. Keep in mind that a token can also be something that costs you less than 50 cents.

To de-escalate customer dissatisfaction is a way to provide superior customer service. These are just a few ways to provide superior customer service; to provide a positive customer experience. Practice a few of these tips to improve your level of service. Best of success to you!

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