Small Business Show

SBS: Newsletter: Managing Customer Conflict and Problem Solving

Problems — we all work on solving them every single day. Maybe the solution to a problem is the entire reason for your business to exist in the first place? In this newsletter from The Small Business Show, we focus on problem-solving for your Small Business, and resources and tools to manage customer conflict.

One of the cornerstones of most conflicts is the misunderstanding of the intention of one or both parties. You’ll learn about methods to be sure your good intentions are interpreted correctly and when sometimes you or your employees will just have to pick up the phone to clear the air.

Here’s some of the good stuff we are covering today:

  • De-escalation
  • Misunderstanding Intention
  • Picking Up The Phone
  • Creating Procedures for When Things Escalate
  • Solving Problems with Your Customer
  • Managing Customer Expectations
  • Empowering Employees


De-escalation is a business tactic typically employed in the customer service division that is ultimately procedures on how to deal with an unhappy or disappointed customer. One of the best places to start is in the mindset that a problem or angry customer is an opportunity to create one of your most loyal customers.

You can read more about De-escalation in a business setting here:

Misunderstanding Intention:

To understand how to de-escalate a situation, we must first understand why situations escalate in the first place. Almost all conflicts are caused by a misunderstanding of intention. For instance, when sending an email, or text the tone behind your words cannot be conveyed, leading the way to some friction. Making sure that your intention is properly conveyed is a good way to avoid conflict before it even happens.

Picking Up The Phone:

Knowing when to pick up the phone and call your customer, or talk with them face-to-face is important. Setting up a procedure or guidelines for you and your employees is important to be successful. Getting out of the digital space reminds us that we are all human, and makes it much easier to find a solution. Furthermore, it shows that you as the company care, and are willing to listen and fix a customer’s friction point.

Creating Procedures:

Having a set of guidelines and instructions for your staff is very important when it comes to customer service de-escalation. Making sure your procedures have some flexibility is important.

Here’s an example of how/where to start with setting up your procedures:

Solving Problems With Your Customer:

When a problem arises, it is important to not have the conflict sit between you and the customer, but instead, work with your customer to solve it. Be on the same side of the problem! This can be achieved by leading the conversation with love, and expressing to them that you are going to take this headache away for them.

Managing Customer Expectations:

Another way to avoid conflict before it arises is by managing what your customers expect from you. Be very clear on what you can deliver from the beginning, and remain transparent through the whole process. Educate your customers on your products or services, and what goes into getting it to them. Having a clear goal set for you and your customer combats that chance of disappointment or confusion from the customer that could lead to friction.

Check Out The Two Token Concept Here:

Empowering Employees:

Make sure your team has the tools they need to quickly solve problems when they arise. Teach your staff how to avoid escalating a problem, and give them resources to use to help, you only get so many chances before you are seen as having bad customer service. Train your employees on how to speak to customers, what terms to use, and what money or resources they have at their disposal to problem solve with customers.

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