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  • Stuart Chant

How to De-Escalate

Why you should use empathy statements when dealing with upset customers.

For the last two years, I have been an avid user of an exercise tracking tool.  I love this tool and app as it helps me compete against friends and, more importantly, myself.  I have become healthier as a result of using it, so am invested, and when something does not work, I get upset.  I am not saying I am in perfect shape;  I would not describe my body as a temple, but it is, at least, a marginally well run Presbyterian Center.

Back to the story:  At the start of 2015 I received a report showing all of my activity for the previous twelve months, at the beginning of this year, I did not.  I had set my goals for 2015 as a result of the numbers, so it was important for me to be able to close the loop and see the progress I had made.  I attempted to get the data from their website but failed. Frustrated, I set up a chat.

While waiting for the representative, I was asked to provide the email address associated with my account, and then….

Rep: “Hi, my name is Gilbert, how can I help you today?”

Me: “Hi Gilbert, my name is Stuart Chant, since the turn of the year I have been trying to find out what my total activity for 2015 was.  Last year you sent the data automatically, this year you did not.  I tried downloading the information from your website but could not get more than 30 days and am getting a bit frustrated.  Can you please tell me what my total activity last year was?”

Rep: “What is the email address associated with your account?”

Gilbert tries to verify the account, which is sometimes an excellent place to start.  Verifying is more for him than me; it makes sure that he is looking at the right account and may help him resolve the issue quickly.   However, when it comes to dealing with emotional customers (like me), verification can make the client feel more like a number than a person.

Verification is logical, but logic is the polar opposite of emotion, counteracting emotion with logic is a bit like fighting a fire with gasoline.  In my case, I was already frustrated. Emotional responses need empathy, not logic.

Here is another way the rep could have handled the interaction:

Rep: “Firstly, thanks for being a loyal customer, we appreciate it, I am sorry to hear that you have been getting frustrated.  I would be annoyed as well.  I know how valuable the information is to you.  I am going to do everything I can to help you today, what is the email address associated with your account?”

It may take 10 seconds longer, it might increase AHT, but on the positive side, customers will be happier, FCR will improve, Gilbert will have fewer escalations and probably an improved NPS

How does your customer service department deal with frustrated or upset customers?  Send me an email if you think they need any resources to help them become even more effective.

Stuart Chant C: 818 422 3626  E: stuartc@upgradeperformance.com

  • AHT – Average Handle time

  • FCR – First call resolution

  • NPS – Net Promoter Score


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