- Stay calm. Listen attentively
- Keep the situation in your control
- Signal a coworker or supervisor, that you need help. (Use a duress alarm system or prearranged code words)
- Do not make calls yourself
- Have someone call the Federal Protective Police, contract guard, or local police.
- Stay calm. Quietly signal for help. (Use prearranged code words)
- Keep talking--but follow the instructions from the person who has the weapon
- Don't risk harm to yourself or others
- Don't ever try to be a hero
- Never try to grab a weapon
- Watch for a safe chance to escape to a safe area
- Signal a coworker to get on an extension
- Ask the caller to repeat the message and write it down
- Repeat questions, if necessary
- For a bomb threat, ask where the bomb is and when it is set to go off
- Listen for background noises and write down a description
- Write down whether it is a man or woman caller
- Try to get the person's name, exact location, telephone number
- Signal a coworker to immediately call the FPS, a contract guard, or the local police
- Notify your immediate supervisor
This conveys focused attention on the customer.
- Maintain normal eye contact
Occasionally glance away, then meet the customer's eyes again.
- Do not personalize the customer's anger
Focus on the issue, not the anger. Remember that the customer is angry at the situation, not at you. If a customer verbally attacks you, remain calm and validate his concerns: "I can understand this is frustrating. Let me get all the information from you, and I'll do everything I can to help you."
Give the customer a reasonable amount of time to air complaints without interruption. To remain calm, take deep breaths (inhale and exhale slowly, each to the count of four).
- If a customer attempts to provoke you, do not take the bait
Instead, validate the customer's concern ("I see that this is very important to you.") and express your commitment to do everything possible to assist.
- Ask questions in a non-accusatory, non-judgmental manner
Avoid questions such as, "Didn't you read the fine print?" "Didn't you understand what you were signing?"
Examples: "Can you walk me through the steps you've taken in this matter?" or "Can you help me understand how this all started?"
- Let the customer know you are listening
Take notes clearly within the customer's view and mirror back the information. This shows you are focused on understanding the customer's concerns. Do not doodle
- Do not challenge the customer's truthfulness
Instead, confirm the information the customer gives you.
- Take responsibility -- apologize when appropriate and mean it
At times it is appropriate to say, "I apologize for the inconvenience we may have caused you. I can see that this is very important to you. Let me see what I can do to resolve this problem."
- Help the customer understand applicable regulations/requirements
Convey empathy and a sincere desire to help: "These regulations can be frustrating. I will review them with my supervisor to ensure we have interpreted them correctly." Avoid statements such as, "This is the policy! I don't make the rules here!" "This is just the way it is! Sorry about that!"
- Keep any commitments you make
If you tell a customer you will telephone him by a specific date, keep your commitment, even if you do not have all the necessary information by that date. Call the customer with the information you have and explain what additional steps you are taking to assist him.
- Avoid aggressive, hostile or other inappropriate body language.
For example, DO NOT:
- point your finger toward the customer
- cross your arms and have a blasé look on your face, especially when the customer is angry or frustrated
- grimace or project a facial expression of boredom or disinterest
- stand close to the customer, face to face (This can be interpreted as a physical challenge. Instead, stand at an angle from the customer, at a reasonable distance.)
- move objects around on your desk, fidget, or display other nervous mannerisms
Are you willing?
Here are some options.
I made a mistake.
What have you considered?
What are the options?
I understand your concern.
Which do you prefer?
I apologize for (specific.)
What are the alternatives?
How can it be corrected?
How can I help?
What would you like me to do?
It's just a . . .
I need (want) you to
You need to . . .
What's your problem/concern/situation?
I can't/you can't
Would you mind . . .?
- Make up your mind to listen and concentrate on what is being said. Active listening is trying to understand what the speaker's message really means.
- Remember that the speaker has the right to express his own thoughts and opinions, whether or not you agree with them.
- Avoid anticipating or assuming what the speaker is going to say, then tuning out.
- Check out your understanding by using reflection statements to confirm whether you understand the speaker. Reflection statements restate, in your own words, what you understand has been said. Example: "My understanding is that you would like the information flow to improve in our office."
- Use body language and make statements to communicate, "I'm listening."
- Make frequent eye contact
- Keep your body oriented toward the speaker
- Say "I see," "yeah," "uh huh," "I understand," etc.
- Ask open ended, non-confrontational questions (no one likes to feel they are being interrogated). Invite the speaker to tell more about his concerns, expectations, and interests.
- For example: "What did you mean when you said…? "Can you tell me more about…? "Can you help me get a sense of . . . ?"
- Listen between the lines. Try to pick up the speaker's feelings. A speaker does not always put everything that is important into words. Observe the speaker's body language - the changing tones and volume of voice, expressions, hand gestures, posture, etc.
- Ask yourself, "What is the speaker getting at?" "What point is he trying to make?" "What point has he already made?"
- Restrain your emotions. Pause and consider before replying
- Be open-minded and receptive, regardless of the speaker.
- Listen from beginning to end.
- Take notes on complex issues.