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10 De-escalation Techniques for Effective Customer Support

a group of people working at computers discussing de-escalation techniques customer support

With any business, it is common to have frequent run-ins with dissatisfied and angry customers. Some of the most common reasons for customer complaints are having billing issues or poor quality of the purchased product. Also, whenever customers are having a hard time reaching customer service, they get frustrated. In fact, according to a report, 75% of customers believe that it takes too long to reach a live agent.  

When spoken rudely by customers, it might be challenging for a customer service representative to de-escalate the conversation. It could be not easy to be polite and helpful. However, if this type of situation is not handled well, there is a chance that it could affect the business’ revenue. One of the negative effects could be loss of customers and profit.  

But keep in mind that complaints aren’t always a bad thing. It is still possible to handle these situations effectively and push through the negativity. Plus, it can sometimes also lead to positive outcomes, such as being able to get useful feedback. Remember that issues with angry customers are usually resolved by using creative strategies and de-escalation techniques. 

a person wearing headphones sitting at a desk in front of his company computer
Image Courtesy Antoni Shkraba

Importance of Customer Complaints 

Dealing with frustrated and angry customers is an opportunity to be aware of business issues. According to research, 91% of unhappy customers who are non-complainers simply leave. So instead of being scared of the situation, use it to improve your products and services. 

Consider customer complaints as healthy feedbacks that are essential to businesses. If addressed, this would help increase the satisfaction of, not only the non-complainers but, all customers. 

Here are three main reasons why should businesses welcome customer complaints:

1. Strengthens customer communication 

This simply means that complaints open discussions with customers. When customers complain, they are able to point out some mistakes, errors, or any negative information that make their experience bad. This allows the customers to be an important factor in the business’ success

2. Recognizes policies and procedures that need improvement 

It is a good way to know if the current policies and procedures are convenient for the business and the customers. These customer complaints point out what is unnecessary and need change. 

3. Identifies poor-quality products and services 

When a customer informs a business regarding a faulty product, it allows the organization to fix their other potential products. It gives the business the opportunity to grow and change its services. 

These reasons mean that every complaint if considered as a big help, could help in improving the business. So all complaints even from mean and angry customers should be handled with grace and proper decorum. A business should have an effective customer support team that would politely assist customers. 

10 De-Escalation Techniques for Effective Customer Support 

Unhappy and dissatisfied customers may have their own way on how to express themselves. That’s why it is important to know how to handle them. Here’s a list of de-escalation techniques for customer service that may help in conflict resolution. 

1. Keep calm and confident 

The first thing that a customer service representative should do is to stay calm. Do not take it personally when a customer is angry. Most of the time, if the agent is calm, the customer would start calming down as well. 

Also, it would be better if representatives would stay confident with their abilities to resolve the issue. A customer would respect an agent that portrays an empowered customer support agent.  

2. Listen before talking 

In de-escalating a conversation, it is important to allow the customer to say the problems or concerns they experience. Concentrate on listening and clearly understanding why they are upset. Give full attention to what the customer is saying and not to their emotions.  

For online chat support, read their inquiry twice before replying. It would be better to avoid interrupting the customer and ask for clarifications after. Listening to customers carefully could help them calm down and provide details about their experiences that would help solve the problem. 

3. Pick the right words and tone 

Consider how the customer would want to be spoken to. The customer service representative should pick the right words to use. Avoid phrases that would sound less human and unnatural.  

For example, instead of “Alright, calm down,” it would be better to say “We apologize for the inconvenience and we would take action right away.” It would be much more comforting. 

In addition, the use of negative language would also add fuel to the fire. On the other hand, an overly gentle tone could come across as patronizing. The customer support team should be versatile and skillful when it comes to the language they use.  

4. Use the customer’s name

Another great de-escalation technique is to add a personal touch to the conversation. By using the names of the customers, it shows that the agent cares and respects them. It allows the conversation to be more relaxed and friendly. 

However, addressing their name too much could be awkward. Let the agent use their names sparingly to make it sound natural. 

5. Script the response 

If agents encounter common complaints, it would be much easier to script the response. If that’s the case, it would be much easier to script the response. This way, the customer service representative is prepared and would most likely not be overwhelmed.  

List down possible customer concerns and practice how to properly respond. Another option could be bulleting key phrases that would guide the agents during de-escalation. 

6. Break the problem down 

There are instances wherein a customer would have a complex problem. In order to de-escalate the situation, try to break the problem down into much more manageable portions. Tackle and address each part one-by-one.  

This is a more efficient technique to provide solutions. Once the customer sees that the issue is carefully being resolved, they may try to approach the conversation calmly.  

7. Provide a realistic process for resolution 

One of the great de-escalation techniques is suggesting realistic steps. The representative should ensure the customer that the problem is fully understood. Then, explain that the support team would provide an action right away. 

For instance, a customer’s problem would require two to three days to be fully resolved. The representative could provide a ticket at the moment to ensure that action is currently taken. It would also be better to keep the customer updated from time to time.  

8. Avoid putting customers on hold 

It frustrates customers whenever they are repeatedly put on hold. They already feel upset and inconvenienced because of their problem with the company’s product or service. So making them wait would just increase their anger.  

Ensure that a customer representative is available to answer their queries. Plus, avoid transferring the customer from one department to another.  

9. Tell the truth 

It may be tempting to say what the customer would want to hear but it would be much better to stay honest. Do not make promises that the business cannot keep. One of the most effective de-escalation techniques is to simply tell the customer that an action is done to resolve the issue.   

Moreover, be honest because customers would want to know what is really going on. For example, the customer accidentally broke the product and asked for a refund. The agent should be honest and politely explain that it is not possible.  

10. Make customers feel appreciated 

To end a conversation, it would be nice to let the customer know that the business appreciates their feedback. A representative could end by saying “We value you as our customer and thank you for bringing this to our attention.” It would be a great way to make the customers feel that they are understood.  

Another way to de-escalate a conversation with a dissatisfied customer is by offering a recovery token. This means that the business could be providing free shipping or waiving other fees. It doesn’t have to be something big. It could be anything that would let the customer feel that the business is trying to make up for the inconvenience.  

Key Takeaways

Handling angry customers is difficult but not impossible. The customer service representative just needs to understand the process and know when to de-escalate. Having excellent customer service is the key to a successful business. 

 Effective customer support should have strategies and know basic techniques that can improve a conversation. A business should have a support team that consists of experts in the job and in interacting with the customers.  

Also, de-escalation training is usually provided to teach customer service representatives de-escalation techniques that would be beneficial in handling this type of concern. Providing support to dissatisfied and angry customers could be difficult. Patience and expertise in customer service would be required most of the time.  


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Why is it essential to focus on de-escalation techniques in customer support?

De-escalation techniques are crucial in customer support as they empower representatives to handle dissatisfied customers effectively. Properly managing conflicts can prevent negative impacts on business revenue and customer relationships.

Q2: How do customer complaints contribute positively to business improvement?

Customer complaints, when addressed, serve as valuable feedback. They strengthen communication, highlight areas for policy improvement, and identify issues with products or services, fostering overall business growth.

Q3: What are the main reasons businesses should welcome customer complaints?

Welcoming complaints strengthens customer communication, identifies areas for improvement in policies and procedures, and helps in recognizing and addressing poor-quality products and services.

Q4: Why is it important for customer service representatives to listen before responding?

Listening to customers allows representatives to understand their concerns fully. This not only helps in resolving the issue but also helps calm the customer by making them feel heard and valued.

Q5: How can using the customer’s name be an effective de-escalation technique?

Personalizing conversations by using the customer’s name adds a human touch, showing care and respect. However, it’s essential to use their name sparingly to maintain a natural flow in the conversation.

Q6: Why is it advisable to avoid putting customers on hold during conflict resolution?

Putting customers on hold can escalate frustration. Avoiding unnecessary delays shows respect for the customer’s time and enhances the overall de-escalation process.

Q7: Why is it important to make customers feel appreciated at the end of a conversation?

Expressing appreciation reinforces the customer’s value. Offering a recovery token, even a small gesture, shows the business’s commitment to resolving issues and making up for any inconvenience.

Q8: How can businesses strengthen relationships with customers through effective customer support?

Businesses can strengthen relationships by investing in an expert customer support team, implementing de-escalation techniques, and being persistent in delivering excellent service. Patience and expertise are key in handling dissatisfied customers.


Customer support offshoring would be helpful in handling customer concerns. Choose a business process offshoring company that could provide offshoring solutions and an excellent support team with active listening and interpersonal skills. 

In One CoreDev IT (CORE), we provide employer of record solutions and quality customer support including  account activation, help desk and technical support. We also promise to be persistent in delivering excellent service to help you strengthen your company’s relationship with your current and future customers. 

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