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Customer Service & Conflict- How to Help Your Customers Adapt

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Thu, Aug 31, 2017 @ 10:51 AM

Funny motivational speakerThis summers grand family adventure included camping in Shuswap Lake, BC. While I'm not a seasoned camper, I was comforted by the fact that we borrowed my cousins deluxe Rockwell tent trailer.
After a day of driving, we arrived at our camp site and unpacked our gear.  We immediately turned our attention to the set up of the tent trailer. After several failed attempts, we had to face the fact that the lift was broken and this tent trailer was a dud. 
It was near dark and we were stuck in the middle of the Shuswap Lake campground with no real options. Tension was high and my seven year old son was car sick. 
We found our way to a gas station where the attendant reaffirmed our bad luck. On my way out he exclaimed, Remember this will be funny one day. I turned and glared at him and asked, funny for who

I have heard countless funny stories about camping misadventures and when it happened to me, it really wasn't funny.

My sense of humour had abandoned me right when I needed it most. Interestingly, so had my ability to adapt. My solution to this problem was to check in to the nearest bed and breakfast for the entire trip, dashing my sons dreams of camping this summer. 
I should know better but let's look at what really happens when under stress and see why it makes us less flexible. 
The Stress Response
We are at our least adaptable when under pressure. 

Under stress, the brain releases cortisol which raises your heart rate, increases adrenaline levels and it clouds thinking. 

Right when you need to think on your feet, your brain abandons you. This response is immediately activated and it causes us to either fight under stress or we flight from it. 
These stress hormones make us more cranky and less able to see the positive side of our situation. 
We have all experienced the unhappy customer who irrationally blames everything on the situation or worse, you. 
Unable to have clarity or see options, the customers only solution is to lash out. Their logic abandons them and any solutions you offer will just fire them up even more. At this point, solutions may not be the answer but understanding the customer and showing empathy is. 

The path to defuse stress lies in tapping into positive emotions. Empathy for the customers situation( which is not funny to them) starts to unravel negative feelings and gives you an opening to start solving problems. 

Also, a customer may not be ready to find humour in their situation, but any levity will also go a long way to breaking their stress cycle and defusing tension. 

Laugh at the weather, common travel foibles, even lightly poke fun at yourself. Any humor that gets someone laughing has been found to immediately reverse the stress response and make them more flexible and open to problem solving. 

Also remember that when you or your colleagues are under pressure, you are all less adaptable. Noticing this response and using these simple techniques like compassion and levity will reverse the stress and get you back on track.

As for me, my camping adventure will wait for next year and this time I'll trade my high heels for hiking boots. 

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