Q: How do I defuse a tense moment between an employee and a customer?
A: Lise D’Andrea, president and CEO of Customer Service Experts, an Annapolis, Md.- based consulting firm, suggests an approach we’ll call The Three P’s.
Be pleasant. Make sure your body language, tone of voice and word choice project a calm demeanor.
Be patient. If customers want to vent, let them vent. D’Andrea says proposing a solution too quickly -- even a perfectly viable one -- could leave customers feeling they’re not being heard. “It’s really about showing empathy and being a good listener.”
Be professional. Once the customer has had their say, you have a chance to propose a solution or, better, two. “If it’s possible to give more than one option to resolve the situation, that is ideal,” D’Andrea says. “That’s putting the ball in their court to make a decision on how they want to resolve it.”