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  • Are your conversations achieving what you want?
    Are your conversations achieving what you want?
  • Can you allow discussion and still keep control?
    Can you allow discussion and still keep control?
  • Does your feedback help people change?
    Does your feedback help people change?
  • Do you frequently get into arguments?
    Do you frequently get into arguments?
  • How are you coming across to your boss?
    How are you coming across to your boss?
  • Are you getting the best out of your people?
    Are you getting the best out of your people?

Might your need to be better at customer liaison
be met by this London based management training course
called Skills with People?

Yes if you agree with any of the following 

  • It's my job to handle customers when things go wrong, and sometimes it's difficult because they can be very emotional.
  • I'm uncomfortable when they get emotional.
  • I try to calm them down, but sometimes my effect seems to be to wind them up. I don't undertand how this happens.
  • I feel out of my depth handling emotion.

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Click here to listen to our conversation
Dealing with Difficult People - angry or complaining customers

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What you'll take away from this customer liaison skills training course

You'll have a high-powered set of customer liaison skills, a very successful way of handling complaints when the customer gets emotional. You'll be much more confident you can handle them well when things go wrong.

Customers, like everyone else, are easy to handle when things go well, but not so easy when things go wrong. But it's when things go wrong that you have a great opportunity to make the customer experience a positive one. So it needn't be a disaster - potentially it's very good for business if you handle it with skill.

Free exploratory coaching session

INTERESTED?

If so, you can have a FREE exploratory coaching session. It'll give you a foretaste of what you can get from the course. You make no commitment to proceed beyond this until you're sure this training is relevant to your own particular need.

How to accept this offer

Simply contact us for a preliminary chat and to arrange your free exploratory coaching session. 

What this session will do for you

In this session we'll aim to give you something practical you can use right away that'll help you handle a difficult situation more successfully at work. All you need do to prepare for this session is think about the kinds of situations you want to be able to handle more successfully.

FAQs

You'll find answers to many of your questions about the content and method of this course under FAQs (in the main menu above).

How the skills you'll practise on this course
will make you more successful
at customer liaison 

Here are some guidelines for handling customer complaints or dealing with difficult customers

To follow these guidelines you need to use the two crucial skills you'll develop on this course, empathy and assertiveness. We'll give you sufficient practice and coaching for you to develop the confidence you can use this approach when dealing with a customer:-

  • First, calm the customer down by listening with empathy and allowing him to let off steam.
  • Then, be assertive in stating firmly and clearly:-
  1. How you feel about it (e.g., you regret it has happened, you’re keen to do something about it).
  2. What you are going to do about it (e.g., ask him for more facts, go and talk to X, ring him back within Y amount of time).
  • Then do what you’ve said you'll do.
  • Finally check that the customer is fully satisfied.

Example

Below is an example of two conversations with a customer. The first is without the two crucial customer liaison skills. The second shows how the conversation goes when you use the skills. 

It's usually very disturbing to a customer when something goes wrong, or seems to go wrong, with a product or service he depends on. Behind many complaints or calls for technical support there are strong feelings – anxiety, frustration, anger, disappointment, panic. And until the customer has expressed his feelings and let off steam it's very hard for him to calm down and think rationally. Customer liaison people, just because they're so eager to get stuck in and fix the problem, often make two mistakes:-

  • They expect the customer to engage in a rational conversation before letting off steam.
  • They take it for granted that he knows they intend to stay with him, get to the bottom of his problem and help him resolve it. Of course that's their intention, but in his highly charged emotional state he probably doesn’t assume it.

Both these mistakes are illustrated in the example below. Nicola is the customer liaison person:-

Here's the conversation WITHOUT the two skills

NICOLA: Customer support. How can I help?

CUSTOMER: It’s your ***** software. It keeps letting me down. I can’t rely on it.

NICOLA: What exactly is the problem?

CUSTOMER: How do I know what the ***** problem is? I shouldn’t have wasted my money on it. It’s useless! What am I supposed to do now?

NICOLA: Please calm down and tell me exactly what the difficulty is.

CUSTOMER: Don’t tell me to calm down! This is a crisis! My business depends on it – worst luck!

NICOLA: But if you don’t tell me what’s going wrong how can I help?

CUSTOMER: You don’t seem to realise how serious this is! If you call this ‘customer support’ you must be joking!

NICOLA: I’m not going to take any more insults. Do you want me to help or don’t you?

CUSTOMER: How can I trust you to help me if you don’t realise how serious this is? (He may not actually say this, but it probably is how he is feeling.)

There's obviously a serious misunderstanding here. The customer urgently needs help, and Nicola is eager to give it. The reason why they totally fail to connect is that Nicola is not using emotional intelligence. She’s not talking about either her own or the customer’s feelings.

Here's the same conversation WITH the two skills

This time Nicola is much more communicative, and uses the two skills at the heart of emotional intelligence, empathy and assertiveness. These are the two main skills taught on the Skills with People course - and they're both crucial customer liaison skills:-

NICOLA: Hi. It’s Nicola here. I’m on the customer support team. How can I help?

CUSTOMER: Hi. It’s your ***** software. It keeps letting me down. I can’t rely on it.

NICOLA (using empathy): From your tone of voice this sounds like a crisis.

CUSTOMER (lets off steam): Too damned right! My business depends on it. It’s costing me time and money.

NICOLA (more empathy, plus clear reassurance): I can hear it’s urgent. My job now is to identify and fix the problem to your satisfaction.

CUSTOMER (because he's been allowed to let off steam he rapidly calms down): That’s a relief.

NICOLA (takes charge, but with empathy): First I'm going to have to ask you some detailed questions to identify precisely what the problem is. Are you ready for us to do that?

CUSTOMER (now feels sufficiently safe and calm to take part in a rational conversation): Please go ahead. (His blood pressure is now returning to normal.)

This time nothing is taken for granted. Everything is communicated. The customer rapidly calms down and is able to take part in a rational conversation. He feels understood and reassured – and this doesn't take long. Because of how the problem is handled his confidence in the supplier is restored.

The two skills make all the difference. One is Nicola’s quick empathy. The other is the assertive reassurance she gives him that she intends to stay with him until the problem is fixed.

So don’t argue. Don’t ride roughshod over people’s feelings. Don’t rush them. Don’t expect them to be reasonable before they’ve had a chance to let off steam. Don’t assume they know your whole purpose and intention is to give them the support they urgently need – spell it out.

Yet more reasons why you might benefit
from this customer liaison skills training

  • One of the hardest parts of your job is handling customers' complaints, and you need to be able to do it well.
  • As someone who has to handle customers' complaints you have a key part to play in creating the kind of customer experience that will make your company successful.
  • When dealing with customers you just do your best to be helpful, but you've never considered before that there might be a particular set of skills that could make all the difference to your success.
  • The most difficult part of handling customers is getting them to calm down when something goes wrong.
  • You'd like to know how to improve the customer experience.

Is there more information on this website
relevant to customer liaison skills?

Yes. You might also find our page on communication skills and emotional intelligence relevant and helpful.

We love helping you communicate successfully

By giving you communication skills that'll transform even your most challenging relationships and interactions.

That's the purpose of Skills with People, our training course for managers and professional people at all levels. Thousands have benefited from this course.

Video Introduction

What People Have Said About The Course

Workshop Manager, Professional Plant Services

I now find it easier to have awkward conversations. (As a result of how he has changed several more people from his company are asking to attend the c ...

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Golf Club Manager

Ten out of ten for the course for me personally. I think I would have resigned if it hadn't been for the course.

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Feedback from a participant's boss - a Shell International senior manager

He is showing far more self-awareness and more restraint in potentially confrontational situations. He is far more aware of the impact his actions and ...

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Feedback from a participant's boss - a Merck Sharp & Dohme medical director

She feels more confident in tackling people and has been impressed with her new found techniques, e.g., in dealing with members of the marketing depar ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Johnson Matthey Catalysts (Germany) senior manager

There has been a noticeable improvement in the performance of this customer service engineer. He is much more succinct now than he was before. He was ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - head of projects in Heinz

He now gains support through his willingness to involve people more and take them with him.

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Billiton director

He's obviously making a positive effort and it does show. People used to be scared of him. No longer.

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Project Quality Engineer (self funding)

A lesson for life! The power of effective communication is incredible when one masters the skills "listen with empathy" / "speak assertively". Defin ...

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Feedback from a participant's boss - a Glaxo SmithKline research director

He has made good progress in two areas: 1. team leadership - he listens with empathy to others well and considers their standpoint as well as his own. ...

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Thank you from a participant

I wanted to let you know that I have secured a new role.  I had to go through an assessment centre and one challenge was to negotiate with a 'belliger ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Kimberley-Clark marketing director

He is now aware of his need to control his direct approach. He was sometimes too assertive. I think he is now well balanced in this respect.

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EHS advisor (environmental health and safety), Johnson Matthey

This is the best non-techincal course the company has ever put me on because it's the most useful. 

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Feedback from participant's boss - Chairman of White Clarke Group

He has greatly improved his ability to manage a situation. He listens more and uses that information to convince. A good example is the .... group, wh ...

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Leisure Centre Manager

The most useful part of the course was learning how to convey my disappointment with a member of staff without demotivating them, without making them ...

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Theatre Manager

Managing to confront them but still maintain their cooperation and support. Previously I was either not confronting or confronting and ending up with ...

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Senior Resource Consultant, Shell International

“Skills with People” has helped me deal with conflict situations.  It has helped me to diffuse tension in meetings and convert pushback into alignment ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Prudential director

He is a lot more confident. At the last meeting of our business unit leaders he fully led the meeting and dealt with people very well.

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The wife of a participant

"Just thinking about last night’s conversation and it’s bringing tears to my eyes – it’s what I’ve always wanted: to be able to talk with you like tha ...

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Sports Centre Manager

I feel that my relationship with other attendees has improved massively following the session. I'd say 9/10 for what I've got from the course as I sa ...

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Fundraising Officer, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)

A very intimate training which will make anyone reflect on how best to engage with colleagues when confronted with difficult situations.

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Feedback from a participant's boss - a WS Atkins director

Now he actively listens, probes, asks for clarifications and does not assume anymore he knows the answer.

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National Training Index* report on the course

"From delegates reports we have identified Skills with People is a 'highspot' among UK business courses. Delegates mentioned as most helpful the enha ...

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Learning & Development Coordinator - The Entertainer

I can't recommend this course enough. It has genuinely been the most impactful course I have ever completed. Understanding that I can be assertive w ...

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Senior Engineer, Qualcomm

An unbelievable experience, highly motivating training and one of the few which stays forever in your mind. A tangible impact to your life and workin ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Johnson & Johnson marketing director

She has become increasingly aware and focussed on ensuring she is gaining cooperation from colleagues by the way she approaches situations. E.g., Meet ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - an HSBC investment director

I have had three unprompted comments from different team members and colleagues who have been surprised at the consideration he has shown in helping s ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - A Philips Semiconductors director

To what extend do I think his training need has been satisfied? Completely. I have been approached by 4 peers to tell me that they could see a very po ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Johnson & Johnson finance director

He has made excellent progress in the management of his team. He has ensured key stakeholders are involved in decision-making and has gone to great le ...

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Examples of Training Needs Met

Forceful communicator who created friction Read More...
Very diligent but hated dealing with difficult people Read More...
Respected specialist who was too quiet at meetings Read More...
Well intentioned but demoralising his team Read More...
Enormous enthusiasm but little sensitivity Read More...
Flying high but creating a tense atmosphere Read More...
Difficulty communicating with non-technical people Read More...
Technically very sound but lacking persuasive skills Read More...
Very logical but not creating enough rapport Read More...
Preparing for a more challenging role Read More...
Not delegating or developing others Read More...
Being more assertive would help career go better Read More...
Lots of energy and ideas but little attention for his clients Read More...
Allowed his meetings to get out of hand Read More...
Had a positive attitude but gave a negative impression Read More...

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