Strategies for Customer Service Conflict Resolution 

Every customer service department, especially those that are focused on calls or live communication, face often conflicts with customers. There are many reasons for conflicts to happen - misunderstandings, unreasonable expectations, low customer service agent qualification, long wait times in call queues, multiple call transfers, or inability to resolve the issue from the first attempt.  Meanwhile, any escalation isn’t just a problem to solve, it is an opportunity. Firms that have developed and set up wise strategies for conflict resolution use them to overcome customer expectations, improve their own image, improve customer retention and build strong relations with their clients.  Even when such a situation occurs, the clients want to see the company and management come and solve the issue to feel that they are valuable and important to the enterprise. Thriving businesses put huge effort to monitor customer satisfaction and their interactions and always have some personalized solutions for customer problems at hand. Thus, such firms get higher customer loyalty and retention. But how to handle conflict with clients? What is conflict resolution in customer service? What is the difference between resolution and solution in customer service? How to develop and set up perfect conflict management strategies?  Keep reading to find all answers.

What is customer conflict resolution?

It is totally clear what is the conflict itself - a situation in contact between two or more persons, who don’t agree with their positions, ideas, and thoughts, so the conversation becomes tense and each of the parties has its own point of view that they don’t want to change. Customer conflict is a conflict between a client and a representative of a firm - agent, manager, and so on - where the customer thinks that the firm has violated his rights, provided unacceptably bad service or hasn’t kept its promises. Customer service conflict resolution is the complex action to find a way out of an unpleasant situation and satisfy the customer without any harm to the company(if it isn’t justified, for instance, in the case of a refund). The ideal final is when both parties stay satisfied with the resolution, and the history of the customer’s relationship with the enterprise doesn’t end at this stage. Nonetheless, there are various factors that influence the potential end of customer conflict resolution, such as inadequate clients or situations when they decide to have nothing to do with the firm anymore. 

Customer conflict resolution may be found during communication between client and customer service representative, or with the participance of a manager. Anyhow, the main goal is to find a way out of the situation that would satisfy both partakers and leave no unpleasant sediment.

What are the reasons for customer conflicts?

By the way, there are many reasons, but the root cause is almost always similar - client dissatisfaction with the customer service, its speed, qualification, and ability to solve their problems in full. The main trouble is that customer dissatisfaction works in snowball mode - if the person is already upset, he becomes to take new small customer issues more emotionally and this factor leads to the inevitable confrontation. For a sample, a client finds some problems with the product - it is the first phase of displeasure. Then, he comes to the customer support department for assistance and a solution, but they say to wait a bit and the client has to call again, and again. Finally, the customer service representative during one of these contact may say “We’ll provide you with a fast and effortless solution in a few minutes”, but don’t do so, and on this step, the customer is ready to explode with anger. Have you noticed how many factors may lead to this consequence? And this is a key to customer conflict resolution - by improving customer service, avoiding popular mistakes, understanding your audience and its wishes, and following generally accepted rules for customer support speed and quality, you can easily avoid conflicts. But this is in general, while our target is to describe the topic in detail. 

Best customer conflict resolution tips

Ensure the client that you have a total comprehension of his trouble

How many times have you heard how buyers say that they aren’t understood? We can bet that it has happened multiple times. People, especially those who have problems with using a product for which they have already paid, want you to be in their shoes, not pretend to do so. 

It doesn’t matter if you acquiesce or not with what the client is telling you. The goal is to show your participance and comprehension of his feelings and emotions, so stay kind and tactful - it is the early beginning of a long way to extinguishing conflict. 

Say sorry

Even though there are numerous occasions when no company’s fault exists, say the words of apologizing. By the way, you should say you are sorry for the clients' bad feelings caused by the problem, and it is enough. Try to say it from the heart, not just for the check mark. People like it when their emotions are taken care of, and your regret is a good starting point for a person to believe that you understand that problem exists, and what is more vital, you are ready to deal with it. 

Use active listening, but never interrupt

The beginning of conflict solving starts when the client is telling his issue. Here is a very vital part of all processes - you have to listen carefully, without any interruptions, and begin to talk only when the client ends his tale.  Yes, active listening is based on asking questions, but it is crucial to let the client say everything he wants to and never set any limits for his story. On the contrary, when the client is going out from constructive communication, it is the best time to summarize his story and start finding the solution. 

Check all the details

The more questions you will ask, the better it would be - within reason, of course. Questions play a role not only to find the root reason or to check some details that would point to resolution but to show the customer your engagement in his problem and your understanding of starting points before discovering a solution.

It is a win-win strategy, because a client feels your contribution and awareness of finding out the resolution, while wise questions bring you nearer to it. 

Be empathetic

It is way more difficult to shout at a happy and cheerful person than at one who doesn’t look optimistic. Another fact is that a positive mood is virulent, so when you will act in this way, people will get a portion of your optimism and cool down a little - an easy way to have happy customers. 

Improvise to extinguish the dialogue - tell a joke, repeat a few times that the customer’s issue is already in progress to be resolved, and assure that you take personal control of it. Try to make the communication more informal - a few people wouldn’t like such an approach. 

Repeat the client’s issue

It is the easiest example and one of the most popular tricks that help customer support representatives show their engagement, understanding, and care for clients’ trouble. When the client’s tale about the problem is over, repeat it in shorten variant and ask the client if you get all aspects and nuances in the right way. If yes, here becomes the process of resolution. This trick works as evidence of your high awareness and attention to all elements of the problem, and also as proof that you have listened to the customer attentively.

Say thank you for sharing a problem

Whatever it sounds like, it is a good method to make dissatisfied customers feel better about themselves and the overall situation with their troubles. It also influences your image, as you show that you put maximum effort into dealing with problems. It doesn’t take much time to say words of thanks to a client, as he hasn’t just faced the problem - he has made a great contribution to your business by finding it and coming up with an appeal. 

Solve requests as quickly as possible

People value their time, and they expect you to do the same. No one has enough time to spend a few hours talking with numerous agents and listening to music while staying in a queue. So your goal is to take care of all customer complaints and deal with them with maximal speed - depending on the complexity of appeal, surely. Acting faster make clients see how much effort you are putting into tackling their trouble, as well as the unpleasant contact with difficult customers will also end faster - and it is a great chance that it will end on a positive accord. 

Forewarn customers about call transfers and ensure them that no repeating is needed

Frustrated customers hate call transfers, and the more transfers you do while processing a request, the higher chance is to get a mad client at the end of the path. The main reason for this is bad transfer management and a lack of needed tools, so people have to repeat their issues again and again. To avoid losing a customer on a third or fourth transfer, never make them repeat an appeal. Secondly, if you know that transfers are required, forewarn people of it. Finally, say that they won’t have to reprise anything to make them less nervous and show that information flows are working great in your company. 

Use conflicts to get more data and comprehension

Conflict is just another way of communication. Yes, it is unpleasant, and yes, it sometimes may lead to negative consequences, or even cause a loss of a client. But contrastively, conflicts are an irreplaceable source of data, as they show such things as real customer expectations, wishes, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution skills of your customer service teams, and areas of improvement. Without conflicts, you will never be able to set up a proactive customer service approach, and if you will not use a proactive model, the number of upset customers will only increase. 

Involve customers in problem-solving

Here is a thin line between making customers feel like they have to do something on their own and boosting their satisfaction by taking into account their opinion. People like to be heard, especially when it comes to complicated problems that touch their lives. The easiest way to do so is to ask the client’s opinion of your ideas for resolving the problem. On the other hand, you can easily ask customers to say their opinion of some potential actions, if you are totally confident that this wouldn’t look like you don’t know what to do with your own product. This approach also helps to make clients less angry as their brains will be busy with constructive thinking instead of blaming you. 

Always follow up when the case is over

Even though the problem is no more, and even difficult customers are already satisfied with the resolution, come back to them with a few questions. Don’t do it in an obvious way like “Evaluate our service from 1 to 5” or something similar. Ask if everything is okay after fixing it, or maybe some additional assistance is needed. Try to not look like a person who is just collecting feedback for reporting, show your interest in customer prosperity. 

Be adaptable

Every person has their own communication style, so try to adapt to it when talking with them. People like to feel comfortable, and communication style is a great way to achieve it. Always put yourself in their shoes and try to understand how they see the situation from their point of view. 

Escalate if needed

Even though escalating calls isn’t the best solution, use this way if you know that you can’t solve the problem on your own. If the issue needs to be solved by using a complex decision, and you don’t have enough powers to make it, ask for escalation. Anyhow, some clients ask for escalation of their own, so there definitely will be situations where escalation is unavoidable. 

Organize customer conflict resolution training

The best way to learn how to deal with difficult situations is to train them. Record such calls to show them as examples for agents and use in special training sessions, such as role-play or other activities. Use these samples during one-to-one coaching sessions to point to real samples of conversations, where some mistakes were made. 

12 phrases that will help you resolve any conflict 

Thanks for bringing this to my attention

Always thank customers, as we have described above. Let them feel that you appreciate their experience and point of view.

Is it okay that I ____?

Ask customers’ opinions on some further actions to make sure that they adore and like the direction of future steps.

I’m really sorry that you have had to get such an unpleasant experience. 

Apologize, it is nothing scary or shameful to do it.  People should understand that you are really sorry about their negative experiences. 

I get your feelings, and that is what I can offer as recompense. 

Clients, who had negative service or unsolved problems, need to get something for that. Always say it to ensure them that you know that every mistake costs a lot. 

Could you tell me some details about this issue, so I would be able to help you in the nearest terms?

Kindly ask for details, as the person is already angry and it may be difficult to start a constructive conversation. Explain, why you need these details. 

Can I ask you to wait for me for a few minutes? I must go away to do (what)

Ask the client to wait, but do it as tactfully as possible - no one wants to stay in queue or somewhere else, especially after already frustrating circumstances that led to this situation. Describe in detail, why you have to go away. 

I totally understand your position. Let’s look at what we can do. 

Confirm that you comprehend the customer’s point of view and his view of the problem again. If needed, do it multiple times to cool down the customer’s mood. 

I agree with you

The strongest phrase that makes the client feel like a winner - his problem exists, and the company confirms it, so there is no way for it to be unsolved.

Our customer service teams are already informed about your problem, it is in the process

Say that problem is already on its route to be solved, this is the most positive news for a client. But never lie - make all necessary actions to inform responsible and relevant specialists, and then say the truth.

Is there something that I can help you too?

Ask for some additional assistance. In 9 of 10 situations, clients will say “No”, but it is just a sample of good manners, and if there is a customer who needs such assistance, he will be highly pleased. 

I know how little time you have, and I do my best to save it

Customers very like to repeat that their time is extremely valuable - and it is true. Let them know that you don’t have a goal to spend it, but only to save.

We can resolve the issue in a few ways. Say me what you think of them.

Let customers choose the way of resolution of their problem, even if it is more about symbolism than reality. As a pleasant gift, give them something like a 10% discount for the next order to eliminate the negative consequences of their bad experience. 

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