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How To's

4 tips on how to de-escalate in customer service

In this article we give 4 tips to help you answer customer requests and make your customers happy.

Sophie Rodriguez Flechas

November 17, 2020 · 7 min read

Why is de-escalation important for Customers’ Satisfaction?

As any person with customer service experience knows, it is more common than not to come across with dissatisfied, angry, and frustrated customers. Usually this anger or frustration turns into a tirade of mean treatment, unreasonable behavior and bad reviews. Knowing how to handle these bursts successfully can make a big difference when it comes to gaining a loyal and satisfied customer, or a frustrated detractor.

In theory, all that you need is correct information to lead them to the right path and timely answers, so that they do not wait for a long time to have their requests taken care of. However, at OMQ we have noticed that it takes more than that to please a customer. Providing correct information is just as important as giving a soothing and understanding answer that makes the customer feel understood and valued. This means that it all comes down to how good your team’s customer service skills are.

Customer service skills: De-escalation

One big chunk of what customer service jobs entail is to effectively communicate with the customer. Which means listening, understanding and then answering accordingly. Those are the foundations. Yet to build a solid customer service experience, there is an additional but very important skill: De-escalation.

According to Oxford Dictionary, de-escalation is easing the intensity of a conflict or violent situation, which is what we are presented to when handling an angry or dissatisfied customer.

It is common practice to include verbal de-escalation training for agents at their recruitment process, where they learn how to properly deal with a big range of situations and types of customers. Tone of voice, way of delivery and how to formulate the sentences are just a few points that training touches on. All of this also changes depending on the industry in which they are going to work, as the interaction is not going to be the same when dealing with a customer in a bank compared to a customer in a retail store. This last one, for example, tries to avoid the use of negative sounding words such as problem, unfortunately, and can’t, among others.

How does AI handle customer requests?

One might say that AI has the same communication skills as human agents, and does an even better job as it does not eat, need toilette breaks, nor sleeps or asks for holidays.

To handle customer requests our AI-based software uses a knowledge base that holds all the information relevant to answer those questions. When there is an incoming request it starts processing the text, comparing and matching words to the data available, as well as understanding the customer’s intentions. Once it has a full picture of what the customer is inquiring about, it matches the request with an answer in the knowledge base and replies to the customer. Although it might sound like a long and time-consuming process, this is actually done instantly and automatically, with minimal to no manual work required.

How to de-escalate using AI?

As mentioned before, accurate and precise information is the main focus of good customer service. This means that the first thing you should take care of when de-escalating with AI is its knowledge base. Make sure that the database is complete and updated.

To make a good customer service experience into an outstanding one, it is necessary to communicate that you care for them and support them. Empathy can go a long way and gain you a loyal customer base, even when there is no available answer for their question. An empathetic answer is built by formulating the sentences in a comforting way and tone.

Key Elements of an empathetic answer

Empathetic answers are easier to convey for human beings as they arise from our own social nature and training just polishes that innate ability.

It might be hard to pin-point those features that make a soothing answer so comforting and translating them into written messages. However, we have four tips that will help you write and prepare excellent de-escalating answers:

1. Acknowledging the customer’s concern:

The best way to start a soothing message is by acknowledging their concern, and letting them know it is valid. This also opens the door to offer a solution, as it means you can see where the issue lies and you want to address it properly.

“I’m really sorry you’ve encountered this issue. Unfortunately, this item is not available at the moment.”

Pro-tip: It is not absolutely necessary to say “I’m sorry”, however, it does go a long way and it is the best way to communicate empathy as well as acknowledgement.

2. Guiding and providing solutions:

When dealing with the issue at hand, it is not only important to guide the customer to the right path, but also give them multiple choices, as not one solution might fit all. This also lets the customer know that you are able to accommodate them, and even prevent further similar issues to arise.

”Would you like to receive a notification when it is available again?”/ “Would you like to see similar items?”

Pro-tip: before suggesting any solution, confirm with the customer their concern, for example if it is about shipping address or billing address.

3. Working out possible agreements:

After acknowledging the issue and then giving a range of possible solutions, the next step is to agree on a solution and set a time frame for said solution to take place. It might be tempting to shorten the real duration of the processes or even inflate the scope the solution might bring, because that usually pleases the customer, yet setting false expectations and making false promises will just frustrate and anger the customer even more in the future.

“We are going to send you an email to notify when it is available again.”

Pro-tip: make sure to repeat the solution chosen, the time frame as well as the next steps you will take.

4. Making sure there are no more issues:

The ideal situation and resolution would be to have everything solved with just one call or contact with customer service. To ensure you cover your bases in this area, it is best to go the extra mile for the customers and ask whether there is some other issue or question they would like to get handled. This means, do not close the contact immediately after the request is solved, ask if you are of any further help and then close contact.

“Is there anything else I can do for you?”

Pro-tip: when closing contact, remind the customer which service channels are available for them if something else arises, and communicate it was a pleasure to be of help.

OMQ AI

At OMQ, we offer AI-based software solutions for your company. We support different communication channels by automatically answering customer requests. The core of the system is our OMQ knowledge base, which distributes the answers among your communication channels.

Some channels might need more empathetic answers than others. For example, when customers are searching for an answer in your help page, they want the solution as dry and direct as possible. Then again, if the customers are using chat or even email, then they do expect more soothing answers that will not only give them a solution but also ease their concerns. This is why it is so important to have multi-purpose answers that work in all communication channels. So by taking good care of your knowledge base, it will ensure that your customers will get the right information every time they need it.

Advantages of the OMQ system

The OMQ system offers an easy and fast implementation, and it works right out-of-the-box. It supports more than 30 languages and automates answers in ticket systems, help pages, email inboxes, contact forms and chatbots. Our automation services can also provide your company with the following advantages:

  • Empathy does not depend on the agents’ mood
  • Instantly distributing updated information
  • Providing reliable customer service 24/7
  • Handling high volume of customer requests

If you have any questions or would like to know more about our products or OMQ in general, feel free to message us! :)