One of the toughest jobs for most workers is how to keep their cool when customers are complaining.  In today’s Wall Street Journal, there is a great article on ways to keep your head while others around you are losing theirs.  The key is to show emotional leadership in responding so you don’t become angry and mad too.  Three steps to showing emotional leadership are:

1.  Acknowledge the customer’s emotions.  Let the customer vent, listen and be empathetic.  Say things like:
“uh huh”, “ok”, “hmmmm” so they know you are listening.  If face-to-face, give eye contact and focus on the person – don’t be distracted by other things.  Actively listen so you can begin problem-solving in your head.

2.  Apologize for the situation.  You can say “I’m sorry this happened.” or “I apologize for the situation”.

3.  Promise confidently to try and help.  Saying “We will resolve this” or”Let me see what I can do to fix this situation for you” or “I can help you take care of this” will let the customer know you will take control of their concern and they can begin to relax.

The key is not to become emotional yourself because once that happens, it will be impossible to look critically at the issue and move into the problem-solving mode.  And don’t take personally the rage or criticism coming from the customer, they are angry about the situation, not you.


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