The Preemptive Acknowledgement is the customer service professional's secret weapon against negative emotions. It's very simple to understand, but spotting situations where you can use it effectively can take a little practice. Here's how it works:
Step 1: Spot a problem before the customer points it out.
The key here is to spot the problem before the customer has a chance to complain. (Once the customer gets angry you'll no longer be able to use the Preemptive Acknowledgement.) For example, you might notice a customer who has been waiting in line or has been on hold.
Step 2: Acknowledge the situation before the customer complains.
You can do this by apologizing, demonstrating empathy, or thanking the customer for their patience. Your acknowledgement must preempt the customer's complaint or anger for this technique to work. If you acknowledge the situation first, the customer is likely to be okay (as long as you handle it). If you wait for the customer to get upset your job will be much, much harder.
Step 3: Re-focus on a solution.
Re-direct the interaction to focus on a solution rather than the problem.
Here's an example:
"I'm sorry about the wait, but thank you for being so patient! Let's get you taken care of!"