Handling Difficult Situations


Handling Difficult Situations (HDS)

Providing a framework for managing challenging conversations.

For those in a service, helpdesk or customer-facing role, handling difficult situations and conversations is a normal part of the role. As the first point of contact, being able to lower tension, understand their situation and provide a resolution or next steps is an essential part of customer care.

The Handling Difficult Situations (HDS) programme provides a framework, a simple, logical, step-by-step process to help you communicate with your customers and handle any difficult conversation/complaint, allowing you to show empathy at every stage of your conversation.

The framework will support the challenging customer conversations you face when dealing with a customer issue/complaint. The programme builds confidence in owning the customer issues and taking responsibility for finding the right solution/outcome. Participants will use techniques to recognise customer emotions, help reassure them and focus the conversation on what they can do and why.

This modular course is based on more than 20 years of quantitative, qualitative and field-based CX research. It forms part of Imparta’s 3D CX Curriculum, which helps CX and Service professionals deliver a differentiated customer experience based on Imparta’s Customer Conversational Model.

This highly interactive programme develops lasting skills and CX techniques through a comprehensive set of simulated activities, application and real-life exercises, tools and reinforcement techniques within Imparta’s continuous improvement ecosystem.


Course Overview

Key training topics include:

  • Be able to identify, acknowledge and own the issue through to resolution.
  • Know a couple of techniques for managing the customer through the process and apply the right techniques at the right time.
  • Be able to recognise and acknowledge customer emotions.
  • Use the 8-step framework to be able to gather the right insight & information, and influence the right outcome whilst maintaining trust in you and not creating detractors.
  • Identifying the key steps within the complaint experience, providing you with the opportunity to resolve more complaints at FPOC.
  • Know when to escalate and be able to action a warm handoff when escalating so the customer feels it is a seamless experience.


The Handling Difficult Situations™ training programme will help to enhance NPS/CSAT results.

It will help you focus on key metrics that include:

  • NPS
  • CSAT
  • Customer Effort
  • Productivity & Efficiency
  • Loyalty and customer retainment

Eight Steps to Managing a Difficult Conversation

This is an example concept from the Handling Difficult Situations programme, which can be delivered in eLearning and instructor-led formats.

who is the account management programme for

Who Is It For?

This programme is suitable for those who deliver service interactions to B2B or B2C customers with a need to differentiate the conversations to create a positive customer experience and resolve customer issues & challenges in a structured customer-centric approach.

The course is designed for both inbound and outbound service roles, helpdesks and any customer-facing role.

Multiple formats

Formats and Duration

The programme is part of Imparta’s CX modular curriculum.

It is available as:

  • eLearning (full modules, plus individual assets that can be embedded into playbooks).
  • A 2-day instructor-led face-to-face workshop.
  • 4 four-hour virtual instructor-led sessions.
  • Flipped learning where the classroom is used to focus on application.
  • Modules that can be combined with other courses.

The programme also includes competency definitions, application tools, measurement and reinforcement tools, including nudge questions and manager coaching guides to make the new skills stick.

application tools for account management

Application Tools

Application tools (Canvases) are available in print, editable PDF and Excel versions.

The Canvases help attendees to embed their new skills, and to apply them to delivering a differentiated service experience to improve NPS, CSAT and customer loyalty.

Explore the modules


Owning the Customer Issue

Impact: NPS; Customer Effort

Understand the impact of first contact resolution (FCR) on customer satisfaction and loyalty. Demonstrate ownership of customer issues at each stage of the conversation.


Identify & Respond to Cues

Impact: NPS; Customer Effort

Watch and listen for cues that the customer has an issue. Recognise emotional cues, parent/child cues, and passive aggressive cues. Respond to each in a way that
recognises and de-escalates the situation.


Managing Expectations

Impact: NPS; Customer Effort

Understand the damage that missed expectations can create. Explore customer expectations around the solution, its speed, and any additional support needed. Reset customer expectations to be realistic rather than optimistic.


A Strategy for De-escalating

Impact: NPS & Loyalty

Follow a simple, logical, step-by-step process for communicating with customers and handling difficult conversations or complaints. Be able to recognise and acknowledge customer emotion while using the framework to gather the right information, gain insight and influence the right outcome.


The Essence of a Difficult Conversation

Impact: NPS; Customer Effort

Maintain a growth mindset during difficult conversation, Recognise which of three types of justice each customer is looking for, and be able to deliver these to de-escalate and reduce the impact of difficult conversations.


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