How to navigate tricky customer relationships

Cassie Benco, 2 min read

How to navigate tricky customer relationships

We've all experienced bad customer service. It sticks with you forever, and if you've ever worked in customer service, you know unpleasant exchanges are a part of the day to day. But what makes these exchanges so volatile? Why is the relationship between customer and customer service so turbulent? Well, it turns out, it’s all because of emotion. Customers come to support when there is a problem; there’s a pain point which is causing distress. These exchanges can be fuelled by frustration, irritation, and even anger at times.

So, the question is - How do we navigate such tricky relationships - and turn situations fuelled by emotion into pleasant exchanges that get the best results for everyone involved? Sounds impossible! But here's a secret - we do it here at Yarno by using a method for conflict resolution known as AAA - Align, Acknowledge, Assure. I have been learning a lot about AAA during my onboarding journey, and would love to share a few tips and tricks to ensure you’re always delighting the customer…

Validate the specific situation and feelings the customer describes

This is the Acknowledge part of the process. Every customer that comes to you with an issue just wants to know they are being heard and understood. This immediately disarms any negative emotions that the customer is feeling and reminds them that you are on their side - you are both fighting to fix the same problem now. There’s nothing more annoying and ultimately ineffective than being told to ‘calm down’ or that ‘there’s no need to be so angry’! Letting someone know that how they feel is totally valid is a sure fire way to lead the conversation in a more positive direction.  

Let the customer know that you empathise with their concern

Now we want to Align our own experiences with theirs. By showing empathy to the customer and their feelings, you are showing that you’re not only going to validate how they feel, but that you’re there to really help. Has a customer support person ever told you that they understand how you’re feeling? That they themselves have felt this way before too? Doesn’t it feel great to know somebody out there finally GETS it!

Let the customer know that you have a plan to address their concerns

Lastly, we want to Assure the customer that we’re here to help - that we are finally going to get things done for them. One important thing I’ve learnt from my training at Yarno is that this step is not by any means about solutionising! We need to assure the customer that we are there for them and will help to solve any issues they are having - before we actually begin to solve any issues they are having. This solidifies that sense of  togetherness we have been building with the customer - this is not just their problem anymore, it’s our problem. It always feels good to have someone on your side!

Ultimately navigating tricky customer interactions, as a customer support person, is all about disarming the negative, showing patience and empathy, and fostering a bond that shows the customer that you are there for them. One sure fire way to achieve this is by following the AAA template: Acknowledge and validate their feelings, Align their experiences with your own to show empathy, and Assure them that you have a plan to address their issues.


Cassie Benco

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