Resolving Conflict in Call Center Customer Service

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  • 0:03 A Camera Conflict
  • 0:52 Conflict Causes
  • 2:47 Resolution Styles
  • 4:16 Resolution Techniques
  • 5:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Conflicts with customers in a call center environment are bound to happen. In this lesson, you'll learn more about resolving those conflicts to improve customer satisfaction.

A Camera Conflict

Tom is a supervisor at a call center, where phone attendants field calls from the general public who need help with customer service or troubleshooting their new camera. Now that the camera company has launched a new product, Tom is noticing more calls from customers confused about the various features of the device. Attendants try to explain the devices to their new owners, but the calls seem to be ending in angry or frustrated customers who exclaim they will just return the product and get their money back.

Tom is questioning whether it's the camera causing the problems, or if something is being missed in handling the phone call appropriately to mitigate the conflict and keep the customer happy and satisfied. After listening in on a few calls, Tom has decided to look at the various reasons that conflicts occur in customer service and resolution techniques he can pass along that will help solve the problem.

Conflict Causes

There are many reasons that conflicts, or disagreements, develop. It might be a problem at work between two co-workers, an issue at home between a parent and a child, or even a situation at a retail store between a customer and an employee. Whoever the conflict is between, there are several common denominators that Tom can look to, to determine the root of conflicts in general.

  • Different values or beliefs. This is typically ingrained in each of us, even from our childhood. Talking with someone who does not share our values or beliefs might cause a disagreement to occur.
  • Personal style differences. Because we're all unique beings, we all have our own way of doing things and can respond differently to a situation than even a friend who is accompanying us.
  • Differing perceptions. If I think a situation happened one way and you think it happened another, there can be a conflict due to how each of us perceive things occurred.
  • Inadequate or poor communication. Frequently, conflict happens simply because of miscommunication, such as not relaying information about an extended warranty on a product purchased by a customer.
  • Contrary expectations. Have you ever expected someone to show up for a lunch date at noon, and they didn't arrive until 12:30 p.m.? You expected them to be on time, but what they did was contrary to what you expected of them.
  • Out-of-sync goals. If we go back to our cameras, perhaps customers are expecting the new product to perform in a way it wasn't designed to. A customer's goals for a product may be out of sync compared to the manufacturer's goal for the product.
  • Outcomes dependent on others. Perhaps the cameras are faulty or defective in some way. It is not the fault of the customer service representative, yet they receive the brunt of customer complaints because of their position rather than the manufacturer itself.

Because we're all different, how we respond in the midst of a conflict varies as well. Can you identify yourself in one of the following resolution styles?

Resolution Styles

There are a number of resolution styles. All have advantages and disadvantages, though some styles tend to be a little more successful in consisting resolving conflicts at work. Let's go through the most common resolution styles.

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