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Customer Service - Dealing With Difficult People

Customer Service - Dealing With Difficult People


Steve teaches Carlos 6 key skills so problems don't escalate with difficult people.

We all have to deal with difficult people. Carlos complains to Steve about difficult people he has to contend with on a daily basis. He often feels like hitting them, which Steve naturally discourages. Carol offers her six ways of dealing with difficult people, explored by Steve and Carlos:
(1) Observe calmly, do not get sucked into people's dramas.
(2) Listen and show empathy. Acknowledge people's frustration.
(3) Focus on facts: see what people want, and what you can do for them.
(4) Ignore bad behaviors, no matter what people are dishing up (this can be easier said than done).
(5) Give feedback about bad behavior in a constructive fashion.
(6) Build your skills by rehearsing dealing with difficult people. As Steve says, "be 100% Zen". And believe it or not, dealing with such people helps you get to the next level.

DVD (Closed Captioned) / 2013 / 8 minutes

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Psychologist Peter Quarry and a panel of sales experts provide strategies for managing difficult customers and complaints, from simple product returns to major real estate deals being threatened with catastrophe. Practical advice is offered to assist sales people to work through solutions in logical stages to effectively resolve conflict, whilst preserving and reinforcing a positive relationship with the customer

DVD (Closed Captioned) / 2009 / 13 minutes

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  • Interviewer Eve Ash
  • Interviewee Peter Quarry

    Working with manipulative people can be difficult, as they have the ability to influence you or even exploit you. Psychologist, Peter Quarry, explains reactions to manipulation. He suggests the need to talk to others and offers practical strategies for managing manipulation.

    Dealing with Manipulative People covers:
  • What is manipulation?
  • Understanding What is Happening
  • Four Major Types of Response
  • Identifying Manipulator Types

    DVD (Closed Captioned) / 2009 / 15 minutes

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  • Interviewer Eve Ash
  • Interviewee Peter Quarry

    In some workplaces people deal with really difficult customer or clients... often all day long. Psychologist Peter Quarry explains that we need to understand why they are being difficult and explore alternative ways to effectively deal with them.

    Basic Techniques:
  • Listen with empathy
  • Apologise
  • Take personal responsibility
  • Plan remedial action

    Training Points
  • Understand the Customer's Experience and Point of View
  • The Advantages in Understanding the Customer
  • Is There an Alternative?
  • The Cumulative Impact on Staff
  • Techniques for Addressing These Impacts

    DVD (Closed Captioned) / 2009 / 15 minutes

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    With John O'Hurley

    Hollywood celebrity John O'Hurley explains four essential steps to great service.

    Program 1: Love Your Customers

    Love Your Customers demonstrates that in whatever line of work, customer service is a direct extension of the way both you and your company are viewed by the customer.

    Love Your Customers reminds us that there are no small parts only small choices we make about how to treat our customers. In the end, the role we play is always our choice. It's a funny and memorable program with a simple and a universal message. So open up your heart and help your company start "Feeling the Love".

    Program 2: Love Your Difficult Customers

    John O'Hurley has certainly seen unhappy customers (and has been one from time to time). More importantly, an unhappy customer may interface with you or your company.

    Trying to satisfy an unhappy customer can be frustrating and difficult for even the most skilled service person. But all problems are solvable. Not only can you satisfy an angry customer, but also, if handled correctly, you can turn an angry customer into a loyal champion for your company!

    DVD (Closed Captioned) / 2007 / 28 minutes

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  • Presenter Peter Quarry

    Learn practical skills to deal with the know-all, the aggressive person, the joker, the complainer and the dodger.

    Training Points
  • 1. Take aside
  • 2. Stay in control
  • 3. Reward what you want
  • 4. Do not take it personally
  • 5. Push for commitment

    Learning Outcomes
  • 1. Be able to describe five different types of difficult people
  • 2. Be able to demonstrate in a role-play, effective methods for dealing with difficult people
  • 3. Have received feedback on how well they deal with a difficult person

    DVD / 2007 / 14 minutes

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  • Interviewee Eve Ash
  • Interviewer Peter Quarry

    Stop complaining and start working on solving the problem.

    Learn seven specific strategies to help with even the most challenging boss.

    Diagnose the Problem:
  • What is he or she doing?
  • What am I doing?
  • In what situation does this issue arise?
  • Validate with others


    1. Reconnect
  • Start talking to them again like a human being
  • Re-establish a relationship

    2. Proactive Praise
  • Look for positive behaviours of the manager and make comments

    3. Manage Upwards
  • Present strategies and suggestions to how you think things could work

    4. Give Direct Feedback
  • Give specific examples

    5. Seek Help and Report it
  • Make notes on specific occasions
  • Report to HR department in your organisation or your managers manager
  • Counseling support

    6. Leave
  • Another position within the organisation
  • Leave the organisation completely

    7. Ignore
  • Change your mindset
  • Avoid mixing with other negative people in the organisation

    DVD / 2007 / 17 minutes

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  • Interviewee Eve Ash
  • Interviewer Peter Quarry

    This program explores how to prevent aggression at work and how to reduce risk and/or manage it when it happens. A must for everyone who wants a safe and healthy workplace.

    1. Recognise Potential Aggression Early
  • Raised voices
  • Agitated
  • Narrowed eyes
  • Assume more than is there

    2. Avoid Escalation
  • Try to defuse the situation
  • Use a calm and slow, voice and tone
  • Talk to the person
  • Apologise to them about the situation
  • Don't turn your back to them
  • Don't whisper about them to someone else
  • Manage own emotion, stay calm and don't react
  • Don't take it personally
  • Ignore insults and work on solving the problem

    3. Identify the Issues and Reduce Anger
  • Introduce yourself, and use their name
  • Help another person out
  • Ask questions related to the task of solving the problem
  • Move the focus from the problem to the solution

    4. Outline Plan to Help
  • Use decisive language, not words like 'maybe' or 'I will try'
  • Provide a choice
  • Always be honest

    5. Reduce Risk
  • If threatening, can help to avoid direct eye contact, but keep aware of them and their actions through peripheral vision
  • Identify all exits, how many people are around and pick up the phone
  • Have a predetermined plan within the workplace for assistance and to call the police
  • If a person is potentially dangerous, ask them to leave knowing you have the support of the police outside
  • Make sure panic buttons and alarms are tested and in working order
  • Only restrain someone as an absolute last resort
  • If someone produces a weapon, listen to them, continue to use a calm tone of voice, ask them to place the weapon on the table or something nearby. Don't ask them to hand the weapon to you

    6. Afterwards
  • Key people involved may need counseling
  • Re-examine the scenario as a case study within the workplace
  • Train people in the situation before it happens

    DVD / 2007 / 17 minutes

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  • Interviewer Eve Ash
  • Interviewee Peter Quarry

    Learn six practical techniques to resolve conflict in the workplace and achieve effective results.

    1. Look inwards
  • Identify your own personality style in a conflict situation
  • Ostrich - sweeps everything under the carpet but fumes later
  • Sheep - just baas and says yes
  • Owl - tries to resolve conflict cooperatively

    2. Identify other's style
  • Work out how the other is behaving
  • Consider appropriate ways of responding
  • Ostrich - ask questions, probe
  • Lion - avoid arguing back, show empathy
  • Sheep - encourage to articulate issues
  • Beware of slippery sharks!

    3. Use communication skills
  • Rapport building - eye contact, nodding, 'we' and 'us' words
  • Listening - regularly summarise what has been said
  • Display flexibility - offer creative suggestions, avoid rigidity

    4. Use reflective questions
  • Throw to the other person for ideas
  • Use open questions
  • Ensures active involvement
  • Encourages ownership

    5. Use positive reinforcement
  • Praise, reward the other - eg. Displays flexibility, has good idea

    6. Use a logical approach
  • Achieve clarity on differences between you
  • Choose an appropriate appriach - eg. Stepped agreements
  • Consider need for more information
  • Consider whether others can assist

    DVD / 2006 / 15 minutes

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  • Interviewer Eve Ash
  • Interviewee Peter Quarry

    Learn skills to identify and resolve conflict between team members.

    DVD / 2006 / 17 minutes

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  • Interviewer Eve Ash
  • Interviewee Peter Quarry

    Discover the six skills for managing angry, abusive and threatening callers and how to end a call professionally.

    1. Listen
  • Let them vent
  • Don't cut them off
  • "I'm listening"

    2. Stay calm
  • Don't take it personally
  • Moderate your voice

    3. Diffuse anger
  • "I can hear you're angry"
  • "I'm sorry you're angry"
  • Summarise their problem

    4. Explain and set limits
  • Clarify company rules/procedures
  • Use soft tone of voice
  • Give three warnings:
  • "would you please refrain...";
  • "I must warn you to stop... or I will terminate the call";
  • "...so I am going to have to terminate the call"

    5. Focus on resolution and outcome
  • "I want to fix this"
  • "Let's solve this now"

    6. Complete contact professionally
  • Summarise and agree on action
  • Follow up and take notes
  • Brief others as necessary
  • Debrief yourself

    DVD / 2006 / 15 minutes

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  • Interviewer Eve Ash
  • Interviewee Peter Quarry

    Develop techniques to handle angry, abusive or uncooperative people.

    DVD / 2006 / 17 minutes

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  • Interviewer Eve Ash
  • Interviewee Peter Quarry

    Develop an organisational policy that helps victims as well as those with bullying behaviour to recognise and resolve the problem.

    What is workplace bullying?
  • Systematic aggressive behaviour that belittles, humiliates or intimidates
  • Ongoing and repeated - not an isolated event
  • Can be by managers, supervisors, individuals, groups
  • May involve: jokes, images, innuendo; physical contact; sexual harassment; overloading with unreasonable tasks
  • Different individuals may respond differently to the same behaviour

    Who are the victims of bullying?
  • Anyone perceived to be different, eg. Minority groups (race, religion, colour, origin), age (young or old), political views, physical characteristics

    What are the effects of bullying?
  • Emotional - anxiety, depression, even suicide
  • Behavioural - mistakes, concentration, safety, reduced productivity, absenteeism
  • Physical - headaches, rashes
  • Organisation may be liable

    What can organisations do?
  • Have a policy defining the behaviours, agreed by management and communicated widely
  • Managers show/say they do not support bullying
  • Provide training about the problem
  • Provide support for victims
  • Deal with offenders

    What can a victim do?
  • Be assertive early
  • Give warning
  • Talk about it - work colleague, outside friend
  • Escalate to manager if person continues after warned to stop

    Am I a bully?
  • Be aware of your own behaviour
  • Observe other people's behaviour
  • I may be a bully if people have: been angry with me about my behaviour/jokes, etc; cried sometimes
    c How do you manage a bully?
  • As a manager: 1. Be specific about the behaviour
    2. Get agreement/acknowledgement
    3. Follow up
    4. Give feedback
    5. Be alert - person may immediately intimidate victim further

    DVD / 2006 / 14 minutes

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  • Interviewer Eve Ash
  • Interviewee Peter Quarry

    Learn simple techniques for dealing with harassment and changing the situation.

    DVD / 2006 / 19 minutes

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    This program covers important principles in dealing with difficult customers within the customer service industry. Included are feature interviews with service and training professionals from Safeway/Woolworths, The Windsor Hotel Melbourne, Jennifer Allcorn - difficult customer specialist from Gordon TAFE, and the 2004 Best in Australia Industry Award winner, Melbourne restaurant Jacques Reymond.

    The program offers sound advice for dealing with difficult customers in an easy to understand and practical way. Various role plays are included to demonstrate points and interviews with professionals who work in a variety of areas within the customer service industry. It is an informative mix of expert knowledge with excellent examples on how to deal with difficult customers.

    Please contact us for primary and secondary schools pricing.

    DVD / 2004 / (Senior Secondary - Professional) / 25 minutes

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    Volume I: The Differences in People
    In The Differences in People you'll learn how to overcome stressful personality conflicts; how to recognize the control we have over ourselves; how to develop better business relationships and how to understand and adjust our "belief filters."

    Volume II: Dealing with Difficult People
    In Dealing with Difficult People you'll learn the various types of difficult behavior; discover the formula for changing attitudes and the ways to bring out the best in people.

    Volume III: Strategies for Increased Self-Esteem
    In Strategies for Increased Self-Esteem you'll learn how to maintain your composure when times get tough and you are under pressure. Also, you'll discover the keys to communicating effectively and you'll learn the importance of positive self esteem.

    3 DVDs (With 3 Workbooks)

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    In Dealing with Difficult People you'll learn the various types of difficult behavior; discover the formula for changing attitudes and the ways to bring out the best in people.

    DVD / 45 minutes

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