Working With Emotional Customers

Ever wonder why customers sometimes seem to lose control? They snap at imagined slights. They argue, but they don’t make sense. They don’t seem to listen. And they can’t follow simple directions.

The problem, says Andra Medea, a conflict resolution specialist, is that these customers are victims of adrenaline flooding — a rush of adrenaline caused by fear, frustration, embarrassment, or some other pressure floods their brain and knocks out some of the higher brain functions.

The result is a customer who’s ready for a fight, but who can’t follow directions. And if a frontline rep is not aware of what’s happening, it’s easy to get caught up in the customer’s emotions.

In the October issue of Customer Communicator, the training and motivation newsletter for frontline reps, Medea shares five common symptoms of adrenaline flooding and how to respond.

One of the most common symptoms is that customers can’t follow simple directions. Under a flood of adrenaline, the brain loses its ability to sequence, says Medea. That means steps one, two, and three can become a hopeless jumble. When a customer can’t follow directions — reps must lead them step-by-step, slowly, and carefully.

Additionally, color seems to get through to people even when the rest of the brain is impaired, explains Medea. So if there is any color involved, use that to get through. “Find the form with the red lettering on the top,” for instance. Or, “There’s a green box at the bottom left of your screen — click that.”

More tips for handling adrenaline-flooding customers appear in the October issue of Customer Communicator.

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