Handling difficult customers and negative situations effectively (self-talk)

Bob Davis The Quality Conversation bookAn excerpt from The Quality Conversation by Bob Davis

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Let’s say you work as a customer service representative in a customer contact center. Your job is to talk all day long with people who, for one reason or another, are upset with your company. Some of these disgruntled customers may say mean and hurtful things to you, such as, “You are too stupid to help me. Let me talk to your supervisor.” For many people, this kind of call ruins the day. For the rest of the day, their customers get a downcast, depressed person on the line: a person who is not making an effort to hold Quality Conversations. How do you deal with situations like this day after day?

When people say something mean and hurtful to you, the first step is to ask yourself, “Are they saying this for my benefit or for their benefit?” Let’s say that the unpleasant remarks were in response to your saying, “I don’t know,” or, “We can’t do that here.” It would be better to say to yourself, “You know what? I could have responded in a better way. I could have told the customer that it was a good question and that I would be happy to help him. I could have volunteered to do a little research to find out what we need to do to resolve this. Next time, I am going to use this approach instead of telling the customer that we can’t do that here.” This way, instead of letting the customer’s harsh words bring you down, you have turned it into a positive learning and goal-setting experience.


How would positive self-talk affect your contact center team’s performance? Contact Bob Davis today for a free consultation.


It is human nature to be on the defensive. It can be hard to even look at the possibility that you might have been wrong or could have done the job better. But do you know what? Just like every other aspect of attitude control, you can prevent yourself from being on the defensive. Do this, and you will be even better at handling negative comments.

On the other hand, you might discover that the customer’s comment did not provide a learning experience and was not appropriate. Instead of getting upset, you can say to yourself, “Oh, well, I guess this customer just wanted to speak to a supervisor, and this was the only way she thought she would get one on the line. There is no good reason for me to take it personally.” Wouldn’t this be a better way of thinking about the situation?

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