Customer conflict: Learning to negotiate service solutions


Our client had a group of customer service reps who were so eager to accommodate their customers — and avoid conflict — that they sometimes made commitments the firm couldn’t keep.


Our goal was to give customer service reps the communication and negotiation skills that would enable them to:

  • Identify the true needs underlying their customers’ requests
  • Create solutions that were responsive to customer needs AND within the power of the firm to deliver


Working closely with the client, we designed and delivered a day-long educational experience for 50 customer service reps. The session combined basic instruction in communication and negotiation skills, and provided plenty of opportunity for participants to practice the skills on customer-specific scenarios in small groups under the guidance of experienced facilitators.


Participants left the session understanding what was making their customer conversations difficult and why their usual way of responding was actually making the situation worse.

In addition, they learned simple, effective techniques to:

  • uncover customers’ true needs
  • create “win-win” solutions
  • calm themselves and their customers when their conversations got tense
  • say “no” without damaging customer relationships

Participants gave the session top marks and recommended it be offered to other divisions within the company.  The client agreed and it was offered firm-wide.

In our clients' words

Absolutely superb!

[I learned how] to say no to a client while still maintaining a good relationship. The facilitators were excellent.

AMAZING improvisation that was relevant and insightful.

The exercises were great.

[You] really  listened to ensure techniques matched our needs.  [You were] good at understanding our business.

Session Participants
Healthcare Services Firm