Service Delivery: Responding Effectively to Challenging Clients

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Every day, Information and Referral (I&R) Specialists answer calls from vulnerable people in difficult situations. With experience, they get to handling these calls quite adeptly. This course is about those other calls. An I&R specialist must have the skills to meet the needs of all types of people in all types of situations, including people who are angry, hostile, manipulative, call frequently with the same problem, or are otherwise difficult to serve. This interactive course describes the range of “challenging” calls generally encountered within an I&R program, techniques for diffusing situations, setting boundaries, and if necessary, terminating calls. This training was written by AIRS staff member, Clive Jones, a former President of InformCanada, who is responsible for the AIRS Certification Program, in addition to assisting with training and standards development. It was adapted from material within The ABCs of I&R (copyright AIRS). AIRS is the nonprofit Alliance of Information and Referral Systems at www.airs.org.


This course is primarily for Community Resource Specialists.

When you have successfully completed this course, you will be able to:

  • Describe the range of clients who may be described as “challenging” for reasons other than the nature of the call. 
  • Outline techniques to defuse hostility and cope with challenging clients. 
  • Identify when your own feelings are being “triggered” and you are at risk of losing control of the inquiry. 

Key:

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Let's Begin...
3 Questions
Part 1: Types of Difficult Caller
Open to download resource.
Open to download resource.
Part 1: Review Exercise
1 Question  |  5 attempts  |  9/9 points to pass
1 Question  |  5 attempts  |  9/9 points to pass
Part 2: Techniques to Defuse Anger
Open to download resource.
Open to download resource.
Part 2: Review Exercise
6 Questions  |  5 attempts  |  15/15 points to pass
6 Questions  |  5 attempts  |  15/15 points to pass What should I say?
Part 3: Constant Callers
Open to download resource.
Open to download resource.
Part 3: Review Exercise
8 Questions  |  5 attempts  |  8/8 points to pass
8 Questions  |  5 attempts  |  8/8 points to pass Determine whether these statements are true or false when it comes to dealing with constant callers.
Part 4: Face to Face Interviews and Conclusion
Open to download resource.
Open to download resource.
Reflection
2 Questions  |  1 attempt  |  2/2 points to pass
2 Questions  |  1 attempt  |  2/2 points to pass
Service Delivery: Working with Challenging Clients (Quiz)
15 Questions  |  Unlimited attempts  |  12/15 points to pass
15 Questions  |  Unlimited attempts  |  12/15 points to pass
Certificate of Completion
1.00 Hour(s) of Professional Development credit  |  Certificate available
1.00 Hour(s) of Professional Development credit  |  Certificate available Certificate of Completion
BONUS Content
How to De-escalate Calls with Angry or Agitated Customers (Video)
Recorded 01/10/2021
Recorded 01/10/2021
U S A Method
Recorded 01/10/2021
Recorded 01/10/2021
Scenario
3 Questions
3 Questions A woman calls and says she needs to speak to her doctor right now. Using a calm and low voice, the Community Resource Specialist says this is an information and referral line and he will try to help the caller find her doctor. She interrupts and demands to be “put through” to his office right now. The Specialist further slows his speech and explains that this isn’t the doctor’s office but he can try to find that number for her. He asks what the doctor’s name is. The caller’s voice gets louder and she accuses the Specialist of being a liar. The Specialist tries to redirect the caller by asking why she needs to speak with her doctor. The caller replies that the pharmacy refused to refill her prescription, so she needs to tell her doctor to call the pharmacy. The Specialist asks if the caller is about to run out of medication, and she confirms she ran out two days ago and that’s why she needs to talk to the doctor right now. The Specialist affirms it is important to get in touch with her doctor and he will try to help, but he needs her help in trying to find the doctor. He asks if she’s willing to let him help her. The caller agrees and begins to calm down. The Specialist says this is not the doctor’s office but he can help her get in touch with her doctor. He asks if she understands, and she curtly says “Of course, I understand.” He asks if the caller has anyone else who sometimes helps get her medications. She says sometimes Sally helps. The Specialist asks if Sally is a family member or a friend, and the woman says no. He asks how she knows Sally and she says Sally is the caseworker over at the Mental Health Support Center. The Specialist clarifies that the doctor is part of the Mental Health Support Center, and the caller confirms. The Specialist looks up the number for the agency and asks the caller if she’d like to write down the number. She says she doesn’t have a pencil or paper – she just needs to talk to the doctor. She sounds like her anxiety is beginning to escalate again, so the Specialist suggests that he call the doctor’s office while she’s on the phone. The caller agrees. The Specialist completes a warm transfer once he has connected the caller with Sally.
Role Play Exercise
5 Questions  |  Unlimited attempts  |  9/9 points to pass
5 Questions  |  Unlimited attempts  |  9/9 points to pass