How To Peacefully De-Escalate A Frustrated Customer

Beyond protecting assets and property, security guards frequently need to assist customers with questions and problems, often in high-tension situations. This is especially true for security guards in customer-facing roles such as retail security, where de-escalation skills are critical for effective security. Blackbird Security partners with the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) to deliver our in-house Peaceful De-escalation training course. In this blog, we’ll cover key strategies that our retail security guards learn that help them effectively manage customer frustrations and resolve conflicts peacefully. 

Which Types of Security Guards Interact With Customers Most?

Uniformed security guards are often the first line of defence for businesses, and it will most often fall to them to handle disputes with frustrated customers. Uniformed security guards provide assistance to customers in a professional, courteous, and approachable manner, acting as ambassadors for the businesses they protect. They will employ tactics for de-escalation to peacefully manage frustrated customers and maintain a comfortable environment of security for store guests and employees.

Tactical security guards are often deployed to high-risk businesses, such as stores in neighbourhoods that face high crime. These guards are highly trained in advanced tactics, such as the use of force, but will always prioritize peaceful de-escalation before resorting to physical measures. 

Blackbird Security provides retail security services to clients across Canada

Why Is Peaceful De-escalation Important?

Peaceful de-escalation diffuses potentially unsafe and volatile situations while safeguarding the safety and well-being of all individuals involved. Security guards use de-escalation techniques to peacefully resolve conflicts with customers without resorting to force. This minimizes risk and preserves an atmosphere of safety within businesses. Peaceful de-escalation helps to maintain a sense of order and security within the environment, maintaining the integrity of the business while minimizing the risk of property damage, injury, or legal liabilities. 

Additionally, by demonstrating professionalism, empathy, and effective communication skills, security professionals can foster positive relationships with clients, customers, and the public, contributing to a safer community overall. Security guards at Blackbird Security prioritize peaceful de-escalation when faced with conflict. 

How To Peacefully De-Escalate A Customer

1. Be empathetic and nonjudgmental

Try to see the customer’s issue from their perspective. By listening actively and approaching the interaction with compassion and understanding, you can build rapport with the customer and establish a foundation of trust, which is essential for successful de-escalation.

2. Use non-threatening nonverbal communication

Maintaining open body language, including eye contact, a neutral expression, and uncrossed arms, can help diffuse tension and convey a sense of understanding to a frustrated customer. Additionally, maintaining a distance of 1.5-3 feet from the customer can help to decrease anxiety. 

3. Avoid overreacting

It's essential to remain composed and professional when faced with challenging situations, as reacting emotionally can exacerbate conflicts. Take deep breaths, stay focused on resolving the issue, and avoid escalating tensions. 

4. Ignore challenging questions

Instead of engaging with questions meant to instigate an argument or challenge your authority, steer the conversation toward the issue at hand. 

5. Set boundaries

If a customer’s behaviour is offensive or disruptive, clearly communicate simple and enforceable boundaries. Offer them firm and respectful choices and consequences. 

6. Choose your non-negotiables

Identify specific policies or rules that cannot be compromised and communicate them diplomatically to the customer. By standing firm on essential issues, while remaining flexible on others, you can navigate the situation effectively while upholding the business’s rules.

7. Allow time for decisions

Give the customer space and opportunity to consider their options and make decisions without feeling rushed or pressured. Providing time for reflection can help defuse emotions and lead to a more constructive conversation and ultimately, a peaceful resolution.

Blackbird Security provides retail security services to clients across Canada

Partner With Canada’s Number One Retail Security Provider

Security guards should prioritize peaceful de-escalation to minimize risk as much as possible. Peaceful de-escalation allows security guards to preserve a business’s atmosphere of safety and the well-being of team members and customers alike. In partnership with the CPI, Blackbird Security is proud to provide premium training through our Peaceful De-escalation course, allowing our security guards to confidently and effectively manage frustrated customers. 

Beyond retail businesses, security guards working in all industries, such as hospitality, warehouse and distribution, construction, residential, and corporate offices can use peaceful de-escalation tactics when dealing with frustrated individuals. All of Blackbird Security’s guards undergo peaceful de-escalation training to equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to maintain peaceful environments at the sites they protect. 

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