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Handling Difficult Customer Conversations


I am designing a workshop for Mortgage restructure specialists who are finding it difficult to have a conversation with customers regarding mortgage arrears. The aim is to reach a mutually satisfying solution for the bank and the customer. In some cases staff are shying away from having a conversation around this because of the customers circumstances resulting in the situation getting worse for the customer and the bank. As side from role playing scenarios with the customer & mortgage restructure specialist, does anyone have any ideas on fun excerises that could be used around reaching win-win solutions/negoitaion/handling difficult situations? Any ideas would be much appreciated! Thanks, Máire

4 Responses

  1. Anyone for Chocolate?
    I’ve seen this done as a way of introducing the win-win idea. 2 people set up as for arm-wrestling. They are told that each time they touch the other person’s hand to the desk, they get 1 piece of chocolate. They have a minute (or even 30 secs) to get as many as they can. Let the see if they can work it out. If not give hints that if they were to co-operate, rather than compete, they could just touch either person’s hand to the desk over and over again in the time allowed. That way they get the whole box of chocolates. And btw they should be the best chocolates you can afford, or the motivation is not as good.

  2. getting to yes
    Although its old now, I found “Getting to Yes” by Fisher and Ury a good source of ideas (One of them also write “Getting past No”) They don’t have direct fun exercises, but I remember it being possible to devise some using their quite serious approach.

  3. The red blue game
    A very simple exercise which shows the importance of working together to get a mutually satisfying result.

    Split your group into 2 teams and advise them that over 10 rounds you will ask them if they wish to play red or blue. The teams will score points dependant on what both teams decide to go for so:
    If both teams play red they both score 3
    If one goes red and one goes blue the team that went blue scores 6, the one that went red scores -6
    If both teams go blue both teams score -3

    Explain the aim is to end up with a positive score – don’t mention scoring higher than the other group.

    Obviously the way to win the game is for both teams to compromise and go red, each scoring 3 rather than going for 6 by going blue and hoping the other goes red and gets -6

    You can spice it up with conferences and double point rounds if you like, but usually human nature takes over and at least one team will go blue and try to beat the other team who go blue as well and both end up losing because they haven’t been flexible

    You can open up all sorts of discussions after this game, but it shows how compromise and meeting the other party half way can end up as a win for both parties.

    Drop me a line if you’d like a copy.

  4. Thanks

    A very late thanks to all for your suggestions. Just to let you know we did an exercise called Ugli orange exercise which worked really. Both trainers also role played each quandrant of the Steven Covey model, one as the bank and one as the customer with real scenarios staff have experienced. This was very well recieved and resulted in a very engaged audience and discussion afterwards.


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