How to Handle Challenges in Customer Service

How to Handle Challenges in Customer Service
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  • 0:03 Customer Service Job…
  • 0:32 Diffusion
  • 1:19 Prevention
  • 3:07 I Need Help
  • 3:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Colette Rominger

Colette has taught many business and management courses and has a Masters in Adult Education and Training as well as an MBA

If you have worked in any customer service position, you know that you will encounter some difficult customer situations. If you are new to customer service, you may soon be faced with this situation. Remember, a little prevention can go a long way.

Customer Service Job Description

As a customer service provider in any field or industry, your basic job description is simple: keep the customer happy, and if they are not happy be sure to make them happy before they leave or disconnect. This is fairly straightforward and simple, right? Sometimes this is easier said than done. It's human nature to immediately go into a defensive mode when we feel we are being attacked. The key to handling challenging customer service issues is to always remain calm.


When a customer is upset it is usually because they feel they have a faulty product, inadequate service, or did not receive the value promised. When these things happen, the customer is upset and wants to resolve the situation quickly. If you take the time to listen to the customer complaint, they will usually tell you what they want you to do to rectify the situation. When we take the time to listen to the customer complaint and then apologize and calmly ask what they would suggest that we do to make them happy, they immediately become less defensive and calm enough to discuss possible solutions. However, the best way to avoid this situation is being proactive and identifying potential problems in advance along with acceptable solutions. This ensures we can quickly diffuse even the angriest of customers.


The best thing you can do is to prevent these situations from occurring in the first place. With a little bit of training, experience, and practice, you can identify potential problems before they arise. The first thing you should do is to understand what the customer expects initially. Put yourself in the customer's shoes and think about what you would expect from this situation. Would you expect a faulty product to be replaced? Would you expect a free meal or discount if your food took over an hour to be served? Would you want free oil changes for a year if the technician accidentally got grease on the seat of your car? When you can identify possible solutions to problems before the problems actually occur, you can usually prevent having to face frequent irate customers.

Possibly one of the worst words you can use when speaking to an angry customer is policy. This word can immediately upset the customer again because they feel as they are being given a preset response and that you did not listen to his or her individual problem. Another word to avoid is 'no.' Instead of saying 'no, I cannot do that for you', try saying 'here is what I can do for you.' It sends a positive instead of a negative message to the customer. Additionally, it's a genuine way to show you truly want to help the customer find an acceptable solution.

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