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Posted on: January 30th, 2013

Managing Emotions (Part 2 of 3): Customer Service

Customer Service: Eliminating the Negative Emotions & Evoking the Positive

It has been widely assumed that the service provider is solely responsible for managing emotions in an exchange.  For instance, a flight attendant should smile, a bill collector should sound intimidating, and a massage therapist should talk in a soft, relaxing tone. All of these expressions of emotion help set the tone for how the customer should react or display emotion.  But what if this was a two-way exchange and not just one-way?   Doesn’t a customer bring something to the table?  What if there was a way to manage a customer’s emotions as well as our own?

We need to understand that customers come to us in an emotional state, whether positive or negative. Maybe they enter into this exchange having just had a fight with their spouse, the kids yelling in the back seat, or perhaps their favorite NFL team just had one of the biggest 2nd half comebacks of all time!  What can we do to add to the highs or build up the lows of our customers?

In part one, we discussed how our senses of sight, sound and smell could help set the mood.  Now we will talk about how our actions, words and emotions can help manage our customers’ emotions.

You have heard ‘the customer is always right,’ but what if we changed that from meaning that we are ‘wrong’ and they are ‘right,’ to ‘we allow the customer to be right.’  How would it change your emotions if you no longer have to think you are ‘wrong’? When we change our mindset from a defensive attitude to one that allows us to see another point of view, we become calmer and a more active listener.

Another component to managing a customer’s emotions is to communicate well.  The key to great communication is LISTENING!  Our customers will tell us what they want or what their problem is if we will become an active listener.  Here are just a few ways you can become an active listener: Stop talking, prepare yourself, show empathy, don’t argue and ask questions.  By doing some of these things you show the customer you are emotionally engaged in the conversation and in their problems or concerns.  When you are an active listener you will be able to use positive and encouraging words or phrases and avoid negative words.

Positive Language



Please You Don’t Understand
Thank You Hold On A Second
I Can or I Will Our Policy Says
May I What You Need To Do Is….
Would You Mind
I Apologize For…..

How we communicate verbally and non-verbally can help control not only our emotions, but also those of our customers. Try these simple things and see if you just don’t feel a little better.


Communication Behavior



Brief Eye Contact Yawning
Eyes Wide Open Attending to Matters other than Customer
Smiling Interrupting
Open Body Stance Disorganized, dirty work area
Clean, Organized Work Area


Emotions are a two way street- we should never expect that our actions or emotions put a customer in a bad mood or the other way around.  We both come to the transaction with baggage, the important thing is to recognize it and do everything we can beforehand to put ourselves in a positive emotion.