How do you deal with conflict?

A customer stops by your desk with his computer, and he’s clearly upset over the problems that he’s been having with his system. As he vents his frustrations, his voice becomes louder and higher pitched. What’s your next move?

A) Empathize with their problems and let the customer know that you’ll help to resolve the issue.

B) Ask the customer to come back when they’ve calmed down.

C) Take the computer and tell the customer to come back later.

D) Give the customer a diagnostics disk and tell them to run it overnight.

Answer: A – Empathize with their problems.

Ongoing computer problems can be incredibly frustrating, especially when external deadlines and additional responsibilities combine to create a stressful emotional issue. These problems are often escalated because of the lack of control that the end-user has with their technology. This means that you get to manage technology, politics, and emotion, all with one single customer visit.

One of the best ways to diffuse a conflict is to join the suffering. Misery loves company, and the customer’s stress level should decrease when they see that you’re also emotionally invested in resolving the issue. If you empathize with the customer’s situation, you’ll also find that you’re able to build a better relationship with the end user.

If you ask the customer to come back when they’ve calmed down, then you’re simply adding fuel to the fire. Avoiding the problem isn’t going to solve the customer’s issue, and it’s probably going to make things worse.

Even if you take the computer from them, you still don’t know what the problem is or where to start troubleshooting. You have to address the problems between people before you can fix the problems with technology.

Pushing the troubleshooting process onto the customer with a diagnostics disk is another delay tactic that will certainly result in additional problems. The key is to address the problem directly. Avoiding the issue or the person isn’t going to solve the problem for anyone.

Want to learn more? Watch “The Human Component: Communication”

If you thought the CompTIA A+ certification was only about all-things-technical, then you might be surprised at the latest exam objectives that focus on communication skills. In this video, you’ll learn about three techniques that will allow you to communicate better with customers, fellow technicians, and even people outside of your work environment.