Do you know anyone close who works in retail or in customer service?
You would have heard by now that humanity is scum. That customers are unrealistic in their demands. That people really are idiots.
Here’s the reality: Customer service reps have to deal with the worse with a smile on their faces.
Companies are vested in having great customer service, because it means happy customers. And happy customers feed their bottom line. It will do companies no good if their customer reps are getting angry with the clientele.
Because of this; some of the greatest anger management skills are taught to customer service reps. Companies literally train their reps to be amazing at anger management!
One of these great tools is the LAST protocol. And you can use this in almost ANY situation to diffuse what could become a heated argument.
Before we dive into it, pay attention to this important rule. You must follow the LAST protocol in the exact order that it is presented. Otherwise, it will be not as effective or even be counter productive.
Our first instinct when someone has a complaint is to solve the problem. This is true whether the complaint is towards you or about something else. However, the majority of arguments would not even get there if we begin by DELAYING our response. The number one thing people are looking for when complaining is to be understood.
Listen first, and listen well. Give your full attention; validate their concerns; repeat in your own words what they’ve expressed. Do this until the other person has nothing else to say. When you’ve done this, you’ve already finished the hardest part of LAST protocol. You are now ready to move to the next step.
Let me be clear here. Apologize does not equal agreement. By apologizing, we are not giving ourselves out to be a place mat for anyone to step on. The important part of this step is to take on ANY responsibility on our side that we could.
If anything, you can use this step to validate the emotions of the other person. Ex: “I’m sorry that you feel that way”
Congratulations! You’re not done yet. But at this point you’ve likely already diffused an angry person into someone willing to listen to you. Begin with understanding. The counterpart will be more willing to understand you too.
Resist, resist, resist to get to this step until the first two are completely over. Finally, offer to come together on a solution.
Use phrases like, “what can WE do to make this better?”
This is how you turn an enemy into an ally. We’re no longer on opposing teams, but you’ve invited the other to be on the same team as you.
When the discussion comes to a close, thank the complainer for bringing up the issue to you.
Why do we do this part?
It’s not just a decent thing to do. There’s also two benefits to it. 1) With hope, the next time this person brings up something, they’re likely to be less stressed. It may not be as intense as the first time. 2) You’re building a relationship; you’re winning the person over.
Will this customer service tool work in your home, with your partner, with your peers, or with your boss? Absolutely. Dale Carnegie says, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
LAST is a tool that gives you that. Use it often, and you will begin to see a calmer relationship with the people in your life.