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Challenging Customer Conversations

Delivered Live online

"Don't let your team become personally affected by emotional and challenging conversations!"

Course dates

Available on demand for organisations only. Please contact us to book


1-day course


Delivered live online by a trainer


£1,495 plus VAT for up to 12 delegates

Challenging Customer Conversations

Course Overview

Covid 19 is having a far-reaching impact on the personal finances and mental wellbeing of the most vulnerable in society. With around 900,000 fewer jobs and 8.9 million people potentially experiencing cuts to their income through furlough, more people are claiming benefits or getting into debt.

Along with recent budget cuts and welfare reforms,  contact centre and customer service staff are having to deal with ever more challenging customer conversations - often involving angry, distressed and vulnerable callers who may be experiencing financial exclusion, family breakdown, homelessness and poor physical and mental health.

But even experienced customer service staff can find it difficult to stay detached and unaffected from ongoing emotionally charged or confrontational conversations.

This comprehensive training course has been designed to equip you and your staff with the skills and approaches to deal effectively with customer queries, while avoiding becoming personally affected by them.

The training is delivered by our expert trainer, who will take you through a ground-up approach. First, you will look deeper into the types and stages of conflict, challenging scenarios and stress, and the effect these can have on you. Next, you will have the opportunity to cement your learning through a practical workshop session.

What will I learn?

  • The stages of conflict

  • Styles and techniques available to approach conflict

  • How to deal with difficult situations

  • How to look after your mental well being

  • The route of stress and how it manifests

  • Practical 'adaptive' tools and techniques

Who's it for?

This Dealing with Challenging Customer Conversations training is designed for anyone who faces emotionally challenging conversations. It is especially relevant for customer-facing staff, call operators and customer services staff from local authorities and social housing providers. No previous training or experience is required to join this course.

This is a one-day course, that can be delivered in two half-day sessions. It is popular for the sessions to be delivered around two weeks apart but they can be delivered on the same day. This reduces any service impact from too many staff being away from their positions at any one time.

How it's delivered: 

Currently this course is bring delivered ‘live on-line’ with a trainer and can be accessed via a PC, Mac or Tablet. With live online, you can interact, ask questions and practice new skills – all without leaving your desk! Perfect for dispersed teams working from home.  


Please get in touch for a quote as prices can vary depending on the number of delegates and courses required. The course is available to book as a closed course for your organisation.

What our customers are saying about this course:

Would you recommend this course to others?

100% - The course was very informative and helpful. I will use many of the aspects discussed moving forward to help me when challenging situations arise.

Delegate, Yorkshire Housing

Yes - The subject matter applies to everyone. The trainers delivery was fantastic and I feel so much better for taking the course.

Delegate, Yorkshire Housing

Still need convincing?

Read the two case studies below.

Session 1 Course Content

  • Understanding and managing conflict
  • Stages of conflict
  • Style choices for managing conflict
  • Taking the heat out of calls
  • Dealing with difficult situations constructively and effectively
  • When to terminate calls using local procedure
  • Understanding stress
  • Managing stress
  • Recognising how stress manifests
  • Solutions to stress
  • Angry customers
  • Distressed customers
  • Customers in crisis
  • Vulnerable customers
  • Acknowledging factual content, customer feelings and circumstances
  • Managing our own emotions
  • Aggressive vs assertive behaviour
  • Understanding signs of conflict
  • Knowing when to apologise
  • Agreeing next steps
  • Identifying further learning needs

Session 2 Course Content

  • Brief review of Session 1
  • Key points

Adur and Worthing Testimony

Testimonial: Adur and Worthing Council

“Help us handle challenging customer conversations”

Adur and Worthing Council contact centre takes up to 1000 calls per day. Inevitably, some of these calls come from angry or distressed callers. The Council noticed a rise in the number of people who were articulating severe anxiety and depression – often from people in housing crisis or owing the Council money. This was placing a burden on staff who were trying to offer help, while maintain professional boundaries and resilience.

So the Council enrolled their team onto escalla’s Dealing with Challenging Customer Conversations training course – specifically designed to help teams effectively handle aggressive and vulnerable customers. Through practical adaptive tools and techniques, they looked at how to approach conflict, deal with difficult situations, reduce stress and look after themselves and their callers.

Since the training, Adur and Worthing Council contact centre management have noticed a shift in how their staff interact with customers. They’ve become more assertive, displaying empathy, but without ‘taking on’ the customers' problems.

“I got comments from almost all the team to say it was the best training they'd ever had - because the trainer made them feel safe to share difficulties, and suggested practical ways to tackle them.”

Read full Case study.

Caroline Squires

Service Manager at Adur and Worthing Council

Yorkshire Housing Testimony

Testimonial: Yorkshire Housing

"Helping staff to deal with challenging conversations"

"At Yorkshire Housing we believe in making it possible for our customers to have a place they’re proud to call home. As with any social housing organisation, sometimes this comes with its challenges and our Customer experience teams do an excellent -yet sometimes difficult- job to handle calls, often from distressed customers. Last year, we identified a need to provide better support to our customers in those scenarios and at the same time enable our colleagues to preserve their own wellbeing in stressful or difficult situations.

We spent a long time in conversations with different providers but within five minutes of our first conversation with Mel, it became clear escalla were the right match for our needs.

We’ve had nothing but refreshing and positive feedback from our colleagues who have so far attended the workshop and the impact this has had on their work – the way they now approach and deal with stress and difficult conversations is truly inspiring.

I attended one of the sessions myself and I can only say it was one of the most engaging, interactive workshops I’ve taken part in. It stays with you and encourages you to make changes from day one, whilst giving you the tools to do it."

Chabel Santacreu

Learning and Organisation Development Partner, Yorkshire Housing

Richmond Housing Partnership

Testimonial: Richmond Housing Partnership RHP Group

"Helping staff to deal with challenging conversations"

“Mel is an excellent trainer, he encouraged engagement of the whole team so it was not the same people speaking throughout the training. He found a way to make examples relatable to our field of work which helped the training come to life. I have had positive feedback from the team who feel like they will massively benefit from this, some have already updated me with examples of putting it into practice. Really happy with the training provided and will be keeping a lookout for new Escalla courses, as well as recommending it to colleagues!” –

Jadie Johnstone

Rents Manager, RHP.