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What a Two Year Old Can Teach Us About Customer Service

If you have kids of your own, know someone who does, or just have seen toddlers in action then it’s likely you know about the terrible twos.

Toddlers are a fickle bunch. They can be supremely loving one minute and be filled with frustration and rage the next.

It’s not their fault that their emotions hit both ends of the spectrum on a regular basis. It’s all part of growing and learning how to deal with and manage all these new feelings they have, but with the right tools and understanding any adult can help a child through these tough times.

The same description and logic can also apply to us as customers and customer service providers.

Managing Emotions

I’ve been in the customer service field a long time and I’ve seen the wonderful and the downright ugly on both sides.

No matter whether you’re the upset person or you’re dealing with an upset customer, emotions are always involved and can sometimes get out of control…if you let them.

So, taking my experience with my own 2 year old and those of my customer service background, here are a few things I’ve learned that will help to make things easier for all involved.


The #1 piece of advice I can give to any parent or customer service provider is to listen. Listen intently.

Although it may seem that there’s no reason for one to be upset (especially with a toddler), there’s always a cause. The tough part is that the reason may not always be clear and that can lead to misinterpretations, which in turn can lead to a solution that doesn’t satisfy.

If you try and offer a solution too fast and end up interrupting someone’s tantrum or rant (and I use those two words with the utmost respect), then you can quickly be seen as someone who isn’t concerned with solving the actual problem.

Worse yet, you could be seen as argumentative and aloof, which will get you nowhere and certainly won’t end in a happy customer or child.

Depending on the situation, it may not even be clear what the real issue is at first, but if you’re listening closely chances are you’ll at least get close.

Show Empathy and Understanding

After someone has explained why they’re upset, or you’ve listened close enough to your toddler to discern what it is that’s causing their heightened emotions, simply letting them know that you understand how they’re feeling and can relate to their frustration is the perfect method for connecting with the on an emotional level.

This immediately puts you in the position of problem solver instead of being the enemy blocking the path to a resolution.

Patience and Consistency

I know, easier said than done in some cases right?

We all have bad days and sometimes we’ve seen the same issue again and again and know what to do immediately, but people want to be heard. They want to know that you are really understanding what they’re issue is before you give them a solution.

Be prepared to listen to the same thing over and over again. Sometimes that’s the only way for someone to get something off their chest.

Toddlers are notorious for getting upset over the same thing multiple times. It takes time for them to learn boundaries and what’s expected of them.

I’ve lost count of how many times my son has gotten upset when I take away some household item from from him that “is not a toy”. There’s not much else to do other than to explain to him over and over that “this is not a toy” and that “we don’t play with that”.

Yes, it’s mind numbingly annoying to have to repeat myself daily for months at a time but in the end, that patience and consistency will make for a better experience for us all.


This is the last and most important step in providing great service to your customers and for acknowledging to your young ones that you appreciate their response to your help.

Assuming that you’ve been able to successfully solve the issue, showing gratitude and thanking the person that was angry with you is a great step in solidifying the agreement you’ve both just made and is proven to make people happier.

It shows that you truly care about not only the problem that was just solved, but also that you’ll be there to help with anything they may need on the future.

We all make mistakes and we all have bad days where our emotions can get the better of us, but if we can remember the tips above when we’re dealing with our own or someone else’s problems, we’ll likely find a resolution that satisfies all involved.


Photo by mdanys

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