How can communication be used to reduce emotion in a customer service situation?
There is no specific kind of communication that can be used to reduce emotion in such a situation. Any type of communication (phone call, letter, etc) is as likely to increase emotion as to reduce it. What is vital is the content and tone of the communication.
Ideally, the communication can reduce emotion by giving the customer at least some of what they want. If this is not possible, the only chance to reduce emotion is to be conciliatory. In face to face or phone interactions, the representative of the firm must repeatedly apologize and must not make any aggressive statements that serve to make the customer even angrier. This may not work since the bottom line is that the customer is not getting what they want, but it is the only real hope for reducing emotion in such a situation.
This is a very difficult, but very necessary thing for customer service agents to do. Many customers who contact customer service are unhappy about something and it is important to defuse their anger in order to keep them as customers. This can be accomplished by skillful communication, but it is not always possible.
In order to reduce emotion, customer service agents must be understanding and sympathetic. There is nothing worse than an agent who treats a customer's concerns in a brusque manner -- brushing off their concerns as if they were not valid.
An agent must, instead, be able to communicate true sympathy. They must not sound like they are reading off a sheet. Ideally, they would also be able to fix the customer's problem in some way. If, however, there is nothing that can be done about the customer's problem, they must sound like they truly feel badly about it. This is the only possible way to reduce the emotion on the part of the customer.
Communication is about more than just exchanging information. It's about understanding the emotion and intentions behind the information. Effective communication is how you convey a message so that it is received and understood by someone in exactly the way you intended.
More than just the words you use, effective communication combines a set of skills including nonverbal communication, attentive listening, managing stress in the moment, the ability to communicate assertively, and the capacity to recognize and understand your own emotions and those of the person you’re communicating with.
Effective communication is the glue that helps you deepen your connections to others and improve teamwork, decision-making, and problem solving. It enables you to communicate even negative or difficult messages without creating conflict or destroying trust.
- Stress and out-of-control emotion. When you’re stressed or emotionally overwhelmed, you’re more likely to misread other people, send confusing or off-putting nonverbal signals, and lapse into unhealthy knee-jerk patterns of behavior. Take a moment to calm down before continuing a conversation.
- Lack of focus. You can’t communicate effectively when you’re multitasking. If you’re planning what you’re going to say next, daydreaming, checking text messages, or thinking about something else, you’re almost certain to miss nonverbal cues in the conversation. You need to stay focused on the moment-to-moment experience.
- Inconsistent body language. Nonverbal communication should reinforce what is being said, not contradict it. If you say one thing, but your body language says something else, your listener will likely feel you’re being dishonest. For example, you can’t say “yes” while shaking your head no.
Negative body language. If you disagree with or dislike what’s being said, you may use negative body language to rebuff the other person’s message, such as crossing your arms, avoiding eye contact, or tapping your feet. You don’t have to agree, or even like what’s being said, but to communicate effectively without making the other person defensive it’s important to avoid sending negative signals